Benedict XVI: Dialogue Yields Better Results

Sends Letters to the Leaders of Chile, Argentina

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 5, 2008 ( In a letter sent to the leaders of Chile and Argentina, Benedict XVI affirmed that dialogue and negotiation is the most effective manner of resolving conflict.

The Pope sent the missive to Argentine President Cristina Fernández Kirchner and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet on the 30th anniversary of mediation by Pope John Paul II in the Beagle conflict, which prevented an armed confrontation between the South American nations.

The letter was read today by Cardinal Odilio Sherer, archbishop of São Paulo, at a ceremony marking the event, attended by both Kirchner and Bachelet. During the ceremony, held on Mount Aymond in Chile, the foundation stone for a monument in honor of John Paul II was placed.

In 1978, Chile and Argentina were on the cusp of going to war over a longstanding border dispute over three islands in the Beagle channel. A last-minute mediation by Pope John Paul II led to the beginning of a peace process, which was completed in 1984.

In his letter, Benedict XVI recalled the «age-old» border dispute between the nations, and said that the two countries «thought that every possibility had been exhausted to come to an agreement,» and did not see the possibility to continue negotiating.

He also recalled the action of John Paul II, who sent on his own initiative a papal envoy — Cardinal Antonio Samoré — in an attempt to keep the two nations from resorting to war.

New and unique

Benedict XVI said the gesture «went beyond the initial precautions of [Pope John Paul II’s] possible commitment and of the usual practice of the Holy See’s international activity.»

The Polish Pontiff, he said, decided «to offer a new and unique intervention of his own, of a more personal character.»

Benedict XVI added that his predecessor «impelled by his special sensibility to specify the mission received from the Prince of Peace,» distinguished himself «during his long pontificate for the promotion of harmony among peoples.»

The success of the mediation, he continued, constitutes still today «an example of how, in face of any controversy, discouragement must always be overcome and the path of patient dialogue and negotiation conducted with wisdom and prudence must never be regarded as exhausted.»

This dialogue was necessary «to reach a just and fitting solution through peaceful means, proper of civilized peoples, above all when its members know themselves to be, moreover, brothers and children of the one God and Father,» the Pontiff added.

Pointing to other conflicts in various parts of the world, which «have generated very grave consequences,» Benedict XVI underlined the «horrors that that pontifical mediation spared the Argentine and Chilean peoples, and also other nations of the region.»

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