Pope Francis watches a group of young people erect a cross on Piazza Vittorio, during a meeting between the Pope and the youth in Turin on June 21, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI
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Pope Francis' homeland of Argentina is not on the itinerary for his South American tour in July.The pontiff hasn't been back since he became pope more than two years ago, and the Vatican says he doesn't want to influence October's presidential election by visiting now. Much of what Francis says and does has an impact in Argentina, a majority Catholic nation of 41 million people where the church wields great influence.Francis made headlines early this year by lamenting that a growing drug trade in Argentina could lead to a "Mexicanization" of the country.As a result, many interpret the pope's meetings with Fernandez as attempts to influence her policies.Francis clearly embraces his Argentine identity.Massimo Faggioli, a Rome-based church historian, said Francis' relationship with his homeland differs from those the previous two popes had with theirs. John Paul II often talked about his native Poland, but unlike Francis visited his homeland soon after becoming pope.
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