Chileans and Argentines Recall Pope's Peace Mediation

Helped Them to Avoid Armed Conflict in 1978

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BALMACEDA, Chile, OCT. 31, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Catholic communities in southern Chile and Argentina attended a Mass in thanksgiving for John Paul II's silver anniversary and recalled how he helped them to avoid war.



The Chilean episcopal conference sent a message for this fraternal meeting Tuesday, held in Balmaceda, which recalled "the delicate moments lived by the peoples of Argentina and Chile in the last months of 1978."

"It is a known fact that we were very close to a conflict that would have meant suffering, destruction, enmity and indelible scars in our histories," the document read, signed on behalf of the Permanent Committee of the Chilean episcopate by Bishop Manuel Camilo Vial Risopatron of Temuco.

"A quarter-century has transpired since that time when the Lord heard the prayer of so many families and communities on both sides of the Andes Mountains, and made his servant Pope John Paul II an instrument of his peace," it stated. "The generous decision of the Holy Father met with the good will of the authorities and enabled us to surmount our differences and sign the peace treaty for the good of all."

In the message, the Chilean episcopate also remembered Cardinal Antonio Samorè, "who, at the Holy Father's request, was successful in channeling this delicate process in its initial phase, the most complex for the establishment of the talks."

The papal nuncios of both countries, Archbishop Aldo Cavalli of Chile and Archbishop Adriano Bernardini of Argentina, attended the event held in the dioceses of Aysen, Chile, and of Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina.