VATICAN CITY, 28 NOV 2009 (VIS) - Benedict XVI today received in separate audiences Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, president of Argentina, and Michelle Bachelet, president of Chile, to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the two States.
The Pope subsequently met with the two presidents together, each accompanied by a delegation, in the Vatican's Clementine Hall. In his address to them he recalled how the treaty "brought to an end the territorial dispute the two countries had maintained over a long period of time".
"This", he said, "is an appropriate and joyful commemoration of those intense negotiations which, through pontifical mediation, concluded with a dignified, reasonable and equitable solution, thus avoiding an armed conflict which was on the point of breaking out between the two peoples".
The Holy Father went on to highlight how the "Treaty of Peace and Friendship, and the meditation which made it possible, are indissolubly linked to the figure of Pope John Paul II who, moved by feelings of affection towards those beloved nations and in keeping with his tireless efforts as messenger and architect of peace, did not hesitate to accept the delicate and crucial task of mediator in the conflict". In this he was able to rely on "the priceless help of Cardinal Antonio Samore, who personally followed all the vicissitudes of those long and complex negotiations until the ... signing of the Treaty in the presence of delegations from both countries and of the then secretary of State, Cardinal Agostino Casaroli".
"Twenty-five years on, we may note with satisfaction that that historic event made a beneficial contribution to strengthening fraternal feelings in both countries, and to ensuring greater co-operation and integration, which takes concrete form in numerous economic plans, cultural exchanges and important infrastructure projects, thus overcoming the prejudices, suspicions and reserve of the past", said the Pope.
He also pointed out that "Chile and Argentina are not only neighbour States, but much more; they are brother peoples with a shared vocation of fraternity, respect and friendship which, to a large extent, is the fruit of the Catholic tradition lying at the foundations of their history and of their rich cultural and spiritual heritage".
Referring once again to the treaty being commemorated today, the Holy Father described it "as a shining example of the force of the human spirit and of the will for peace against the barbarism and unreason of violence and war". In this context he also highlighted the need "always to persevere with firm resolve (and until the final consequences) in seeking to resolve controversies, with a true desire for dialogue and agreement, through patient negotiation and necessary compromise, and always bearing in mind the just requirements and legitimate interests of everyone".
"In order for the cause of peace to open a way into the minds and hearts of all human beings, and especially of those called to serve their fellow citizens from the highest offices of State, it must be founded on firm moral convictions, on serenity of soul, ... and on the constant search for the common good at the national, regional and global level".
Benedict XVI concluded by underlining the fact that achieving peace "requires the promotion of a true culture of life which fully respects human dignity, and the strengthening of the family as the basic cell of society. It also requires the combating of poverty and corruption, access to quality education for everyone, greater economic solidarity, the consolidation of democracy and the eradication of violence and exploitation, especially against women and children".
AC/PEACE TREATY/ARGENTINA: CHILE VIS 20091130 (610)