Papal Text Notes Peace Between Argentina and Chile

Message for the Centenary of a Monument in the Andes

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 14, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II asked what good would be served by the beauty of the Andes Mountains if Argentina and Chile bloody them with war.



The Pope made that observation in a message sent on the centenary of the monument of Christ the Redeemer.

The text was read to the participants in a ceremony held Saturday before the monument, 4,200 meters (13,800 feet) up in the Andes, which separate Chile and Argentina. Among those attending were the presidents of Argentina and Chile, Néstor Kirchner and Ricardo Lagos.

The monument was built to commemorate the agreements that led to final peace treaties between the two countries in 1902.

"The best of victories was achieved and the real fortitude of the human being was demonstrated, as well as the true greatness of the nations," the papal message states, sent to the presidents of the Chilean and Argentine bishops' conferences, Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz and Archbishop Eduardo Vicente Mirás of Rosario.

"From the threat of conflict there was a move to friendly coexistence between the two neighboring and sister countries," the text said. "The jubilation and satisfaction were well justified in having achieved the inestimable triumph of peace."

"What good would the beauty of the majestic summits and the richness of the fertile valleys serve, if on the earth in which the Creator has placed them, man did not also cultivate bonds of coexistence and peace?" the Pope asked.

"Those words of that time remind the citizens and authorities of today of the need to continue the efforts to strengthen, through the incessant promotion of a culture of peace and significant gestures to make prevail, over any other alternative, the bonds of concord and friendship, the way of loyal dialogue and of respect for law," the Holy Father stated.

The AICA agency reported that during the ceremony, the Chilean president stressed "the clear and absolute rejection of violence and terrorism," while the Argentine president said that there is "a will for more integration and harmony without precedents between both nations."

The ceremony on the summit of Mount St. Elena began with a minute of silence for the victims of the attack in Madrid, Spain, last Thursday, in which 200 people died.

The first challenge on the international scene that John Paul II had to address, at Christmas 1978, was the war that was about to break out between Argentina and Chile over control of three islands south of the Beagle Channel.

The Pope's intervention helped avert war. He counted on the aid of his envoy, Cardinal Antonio Samorè.