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ARGENTINEAN AND CHILEAN YOUTH THANK POPE FOR PEACE

Pontiff Mediated Beagle Channel Conflict

BUENOS AIRES, AUGUST 11 (ZENIT.org).- Waving flags of their countries, some 3,000 Argentinean and 5,000 Chilean youth will thank the Pope for "his intervention in the conflict over the Beagle Channel, which almost degenerated into an absurd war," stated Bishop Fernando Maria Bargallo of Merlo-Moreno. The Bishop, who is responsible at the national level for the pastoral care of youth, explained that the youth of the two countries will express their gratitude during the closing of World Youth Day, which will be presided over by John Paul II from August 19-20.

The conflict between Argentina and Chile over possession of the Channel almost broke out into war between their military governments in 1978. The dispute was finally resolved peacefully, when John Paul II ratified Chile's sovereignty over the territory in question.

Groups of Argentine and Chilean youth will be near the altar, so that the symbolic gesture will be seen by the Holy Father and captured by television cameras, which will broadcast the ceremony world-wide.

Bishop Bargallo said he was surprised at the number of Argentinean youth traveling to Rome. In statements to the AICA agency, he admitted: "we thought that fewer would be traveling. In fact, we did not make it a priority when delineating the objectives of our pastoral program, which was geared to having all the youths live the Jubilee intensely in their own dioceses."

World Youth Day 2000 has awakened more interest among Argentinean youth than previous ones held in Europe. For the Paris Youth Day in 1998, for example, there were 1,700 Argentinean participants. "Evidently, the fact that it is in Rome, in the context of the Holy Year, is especially forceful, so much so, that this time we have not had to promote it," Bishop Bargallo explained.


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