Upon receiving the letters of credence from the new ambassador of Argentina to the Holy See this morning, Pope Benedict XVI stressed that the Church seeks “to promote the dignity of human beings and to elevate them for the good of everyone.” He also recalled the 30 year anniversary of the papal intervention to resolve a dispute between Chile and Argentina.
Speaking to the new ambassador Juan Pablo Cafiero, the Pope described Argentina as a “place of profound Christian traditions which have planted and cultivated important customs.”
To demonstrate this, the Holy Father mentioned that the young Mapuche Indian, Blessed Ceferino Namuncura was "a splendid sign of how Christ, Who truly is the Word incarnate, is not foreign to any culture or person; quite the opposite, the answer for which all cultures long in their hearts is what gives them their true identity, uniting humankind while respecting differences."
Blessed Namuncura was a native of Argentina who began studying to become a Salesian at the age of 11. He traveled to Rome with the hope of becoming a priest, but died in 1905 at the age of 19 from an unknown illness. He was beatified in 2007.
The Holy Father continued his words by focusing on the necessity of the Church to protect the human person. It is through exercising her mission that the Church seeks “to promote the dignity of human beings and to elevate them for the good of everyone,” the Pope told the Argentine prelate.
“Without seeking to become a political player she aspires, with the independence of her moral authority, to co-operate faithfully and openly with all leaders of the temporal world in the noble goal of achieving a civilization of justice, peace, reconciliation, solidarity, and of those other ideals that can never be rescinded or left at the mercy of party consensus, as they are engraved in the human heart and correspond to truth."
The current century, the Pope said, continually shows us the need “to forge personal, family and social life in keeping with these elemental values, which exalt the individual and the entire community.”
“Among these we must highlight support for the family based on marriage between a man and a woman, ... defense of human life from conception to natural end, eradication of poverty, ... the struggle against corruption, adopting means to assist parents in their inalienable right to educate their children in their own ethical and religious convictions, and promoting young people that they may become men and women of peace and reconciliation."
Thirty years of papal mediation
The Pope concluded by informing his audience that today, “in the presence of a delegation from the Apostolic See,” the presidents of Argentina and Chile will meet “to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the meditation undertaken by John Paul II to resolve the dispute between the two nations over the demarcation of their borders at the southern tip of the continent.”
The original dispute between Argentina and Chile involved three islands that each country desired to claim so they could have rights over the territorial seas. Argentina desired to say that it had claims to the Pacific, while Chile wanted territorial rights to the Atlantic.
The disagreement continued to escalate until the two nations were about to declare war on December 24, 1978. However, Pope John Paul II intervened, sending a special delegate, Cardinal Antonio Samore to resolve the dispute. After years of negotiations, the governments of Argentina and Chile agreed to divide the islands in a way that neutralized their claims to territorial oceanic rights.
The Holy Father also noted that a monument currently still in the planning stages “will stand as an eloquent witness and serve to tighten further the bonds of fraternity and understanding of both countries.”