Vatican Aide: War Is Not Inevitable

Reflects on Chile-Argentina Peace and Friendship Treaty

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 29, 2009 ( Argentina and Chile are proof that it’s possible to talk oneself out of armed conflict with another nation, says a Vatican spokesman.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, said this on the most recent edition of «Octava Dies,» a weekly program of the Vatican Television Center.

The spokesman was commenting on the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Argentina and Chile, which was mediated by the Holy See between 1979 and 1984.
A ceremony to mark the anniversary took place Saturday at the Vatican in the presence of Benedict XVI. Presidents Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina and Michelle Bachelet of Chile participated in the event.
According to Father Lombardi, the event had two objectives: «to give thanks for the gift of peace,» and to launch a «message of confidence in the possibility of building peace with patient dialogue against mistrust and the temptation of recourse to force.»
In 1978, presidents Jorge Videla of Argentina and Augusto Pinochet of Chile were at the brink of war over a territorial dispute involving the Beagle channel and three small islands when John Paul II made a last-minute appeal for peace.

Both leaders agreed to a peace-treaty process, which began in January 1979 in Montevideo, Uruguay. After more than five years, the treaty was signed at the Vatican in 1984, which gave the islands to Chile, but maritime rights to Argentina.

Father Lombardi quoted a letter that Benedict XVI sent to the two current presidents on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the start of the delicate mediation, in which he affirmed: «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 considered exhausted, to achieve a just and worthy solution through peaceful means.»
The Pope noted that the success of the five years of negotiations was «an agreeable surprise» for the world, as well as an «example.»
Father Lombardi asked, «If it was possible once, why can it not be so again?»
«It certainly was the case of two countries of Catholic majority, willing to accept the mediation of the Holy See,» he acknowledged. «But the message was far more general.»
The Jesuit recalled the words of John Paul II during his apostolic journey to Uruguay, Chile and Argentina in 1987: «It was a practical and convincing lesson that men and nations, if they really want to, can coexist in peace, making the force of reason prevail over the reasons of force.

«It was the confirmation that history is not ruled by blind impulses, but rather that it depends, in its evolution, on just and responsible decisions, adopted freely by men,»
«Let us continue to build paths of dialogue and peace,» said Father Lombardi. «There is an urgent and dramatic need for it everywhere.»

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