.- In an audience with the Presidents of Argentina and Chile yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI praised the work of the two countries in reaching and upholding a lasting agreement through peaceful negotiation. The Pontiff said that the Catholic Church, "following Christ who brought peace to the world, is fully dedicated to bringing about the aspirations of peace and harmony in all of humanity."
The Holy Father hosted the Presidents in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, marking the first time a Pope has met with two female presidents from traditionally Catholic countries at the same time. Also present were Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States.
The Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1984 between Chile and Argentina was designed to resolve a longstanding dispute between the two nations regarding the land and seas at the southernmost tip of the South American continent. In a time of great tension between the neighboring countries, episcopates from both sides called for Pontifical mediation to avoid armed conflict. Pope John Paul II, in his "untiring labor as messenger and architect of peace, didn't hesitate to accept this delicate and crucial task," said Pope Benedict yesterday.
In his address to the Presidents, the Pontiff put great emphasis on the positive results of reaching a "decent, reasonable, and impartial solution, thereby avoiding armed conflict..." This historic accomplishment, he continued, has contributed to the mutual benefit of the countries, by reinforcing "feelings of fraternity" manifested in the common successes of the two through "cooperation and integration."
Pope Benedict XVI also called the relationship between two nations the "fruit, in great part, of the Catholic tradition" and praised them as "brothers with a common vocation of fraternity, respect and friendship."
This treaty, said the Holy Father, is a "luminous example of the force of the human spirit and of the will of peace in face of the barbarity and injustice of violence as a way to resolve differences," and, he added, it has been a model for other Latin American countries.
On the need for non-violent resolution, he referenced the words pronounced by Pope Pius XII at the beginning of World War II, "Nothing is lost with peace. Everything can be lost with war."
The Holy Father also included in the address an appeal to "those called to serve citizens, from the highest levels of national governments," asking them to maintain "firm moral conviction" in "the constant search for the common national, regional, and global good."
The achievement of peace, he concluded, "requires the promotion of an authentic culture of life, that respects the dignity of the human being fully, united to the strengthening of the family as a basic cell of society. It also requires the fight against poverty and corruption, access to quality education for everyone, solidarity in economic growth, the consolidation of democracy, and the eradication of violence and exploitation, especially against women and children."