“It’s very frustrating that he seems to make time for everyone else except us,” said Geraldine Sanchez, 19, a nanny, as she walked outside Francis’s childhood home in the middle-class neighborhood of Flores. The otherwise nondescript spot is now marked with a plaque: “Pope Francis was born in this house.”
The pope has not spoken at length about why he has not visited Argentina, which analysts attribute at least in part to a reluctance to get swept up in the country’s polarized politics.
It is not that Francis has ignored South America, a region where the Roman Catholic Church’s influence has been waning steadily in recent years.
By the end of his coming trip, the pontiff will have visited every country that borders Argentina, with the exception of Uruguay, plus three additional countries on the continent. He traveled to Brazil in 2013, Bolivia, Paraguay and Ecuador in 2015, Colombia last year and now Chile and Peru during a six-day trip that starts Monday.
Many in Argentina have interpreted the pope’s apparent snub as a decision to avoid contact with President Mauricio Macri. Francis did not crack a smile when he posed for a photo at the Vatican with the center-right politician in February 2016, shortly after Mr. Macri was sworn in.
Francis also had a tense relationship with former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her late husband and predecessor, Néstor Kirchner, while he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, often making thinly veiled criticisms about poverty and corruption. Ms. Kirchner and the pontiff appeared to reconcile after he moved to the Vatican.
But while he may avoid any awkward encounters with leaders in Argentina, the coming trip will still put the pontiff in some uncomfortable situations.
In Santiago, Francis is expected to face demonstrations for keeping Bishop Juan Barros as head of the Diocese of Osorno, 570 miles south of the capital, despite allegations he helped cover up a…