Argentina and Chile Hope for ’08 Papal Visit

Journey Would Mark Anniversary of Vatican’s Role in Resolving Beagle Conflict

BUENOS AIRES, NOV. 16, 2007 ( Argentina’s president-elect and Chile’s president want Benedict XVI to visit their countries in 2008, to mark the 30th anniversary of the Vatican’s role in helping the two nations to avoid war.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope’s secretary of state, accompanied by the apostolic nuncio to Argentina, Archbishop Adriano Bernardini, made this announcement at the Casa Rosada, after a protocol meeting in the presidential office with President Néstor Kirchner and the first lady.

The Pope’s secretary of state visited Argentina for the beatification of Ceferino Namuncurá. He announced Wednesday the hopes of Argentinian President-Elect Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.

Cardinal Bertone said he offered the first couple the cordial greeting of the Holy Father, and he discussed with them the work with youth, education, and the task of the Salesians in Patagonia, which he defined as an “extraordinary and heroic mission.”

“The president and the new president have recognized the social work and the Salesian religious,” he stated.

After affirming that his five-day visit to their country had been “very good,” he highlighted the “good things that the Argentinian people have,” above all “Argentinian good will and spirit.”

The Beagle Conflict was a border dispute between Argentina and Chile regarding the islands located south of the Beagle Channel and the adjacent maritime areas.

It could have resulted in war if it had not been for the intervention of Pope John Paul II beginning in 1978, who, assisted by Cardinal Antonio Samoré as leader of the mediations, helped the two countries reach an agreement, finalized in 1984.

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