Chileans Mark 30 Years Since Papal Mediation

John Paul II Envoy Warded Off War With Argentina

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ROME, DEC. 3, 2008 ( Church and civil leaders from Chile and Argentina are celebrating mediation by a papal envoy in the Beagle conflict, which enabled their two nations to avoid war.

The Chilean bishops are in Rome for their five-yearly visit. With a Mass celebrated by the president of the Chilean episcopal conference, Bishop Alejandro Goic, they recalled the 1978 mediation by Cardinal Antonio Samoré, whom Pope John Paul II sent on his own initiative in an attempt to keep the two nations from war over a border issue.

Bishop Goic recalled that year and the escalating climate of conflict, particularly the anguish of the “mothers and spouses who had their sons and husbands in the trenches at the border.”

“And there, in this setting, sounded the voice and the prophetic word of the Successor of Peter,” the prelate remembered. “On Dec. 12, 1978, he sent a letter to the presidents of Argentina and Chile, before the meeting of the chancellors of both nations, and he told that them dialogue does not predetermine rights and broadens the horizons of reasonable possibilities, honoring those who have the courage and the good sense to continue it tirelessly despite every obstacle.”

The Holy Father’s appeal to dialogue and the mediation of his envoy, Cardinal Samoré, was accepted by the nations.

“Thirty years ago this process began with John Paul II’s envoy, the unforgettable, intelligent and venerable Cardinal Antonio Samoré, who with his collaborators and both chancelleries, and the prayer of two believing sister peoples, achieved the gift of peace for Chile and Argentina,” Bishop Goic added. “It was an eloquent sign of Christ, who came through his Church to work peace.”

Cardinal Francisco Errázuriz, archbishop of Santiago, echoed his brother bishop’s gratitude.

“One always shivers to think of what could have been a war between Argentina and Chile: the enormous number of human lives lost and at the same time, the enmity that grows between two peoples when a war happens,” he said. “Thanks be to God, after this treaty of friendship, of collaboration, the situation is entirely different between our countries and also a fraternity was born that was not experienced beforehand, thanks to the mediation of the Pope.”

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