Pope Francis has said he would like to visit his home country of Argentina in 2024.
“I want to go to the country next year,” the pope reportedly told Argentinian journalist Joaquín Morales Solá during a recent private audience at the Vatican.
The comments were reported in the Argentinian daily La Nacion on April 23.
Since his election to the papacy in 2013, Francis has never returned to his home country of Argentina.
In a March interview with La Nacion, he explained that a trip to Argentina had been planned in 2017 but had to be canceled because of elections. The pope does not travel to a country in an election year to avoid appearing impartial.
“In other words, there is no refusal to go; it was planned,” he said.
“Later, what happened is that things got complicated in a different way; there were two years of a pandemic that led to trips that had to be made, even to places where one says ‘what was he there for,’ but he had to go,” he added. “So Argentina is still waiting. I want to go, I hope to go.”
The conversation with Morales Solá, published Sunday, marks the first time the pope has given a possible date for an Argentina trip.
According to Morales Solá, Pope Francis also revealed that he has asked Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Pope Benedict XVI’s personal secretary, to vacate his Vatican apartment in a few months.
The pope also said he has given the German archbishop the choice to remain in Italy or return to Germany, while noting that other private secretaries of popes returned to their native countries, such as the private secretary of St. John Paul II, Stanislaw Dziwisz.
Pope Francis said he “still misses” Benedict XVI, who always gave him “good counsels and was a permanent help” during their frequent meetings.
After speaking out April 16, the pope reiterated his support for John Paul II, following allegations from Pietro Orlandi, the brother of Emanuela Orlandi, a Vatican citizen who went missing in 1983 at the age of 15.
“John Paul II was a saint in life and is now also formally so after his death. No one can honestly doubt the goodness of Pope Wojtyla,” the pope said.