Rejected: Pope Francis to intervene in Falkland dispute

Posted Jun 21, 2013 by Eko Armunanto
Britain and Falkland Islanders rejected the idea of Pope Francis intervening in the long-running dispute with Argentina over the islands, which Buenos Aires claims are Argentine territory. "Go and kiss this land which is ours," the pope said to veterans.
Pope Francis
Pope Francis
Casa Rosada
The idea was firstly revealed March 14 by The Independent saying that last year Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, told veterans: "We come to pray for those who have fallen, sons of the country who went out to defend their mother country, to reclaim that which is theirs and was usurped from them." Three years earlier, Cardinal Borgoglio told the families of Argentine soldiers killed in the conflict before they travelled to the military cemetery on the islands: "Go and kiss this land which is ours, and seem to us far away." Senior figures in the Falklands said the remarks were unhelpful but added that the new pope would be welcome to visit the islands to understand the views of its inhabitants.
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez has just mounted a campaign to renegotiate the islands' sovereignty, lobbying Pope Francis on the issue and rejecting the referendum in which Falkland residents voted to remain a British Overseas Territory. She, who has described residents of the British-run islands in the South Atlantic as "squatters", lobbied the newly-elected Argentine Pope this month to promote talks she hopes will see the UK cede control of the Falklands to Argentina.
But, "I think the last thing we need is religion inserted into this," said Mike Summers, a member of the Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly, rejecting the idea of the pope’s intervention. Mark Lyall Grant, Britain's U.N. ambassador, echoed his remarks, saying: "I certainly share the view that religion is not likely to solve anything."
The Vatican, on the other hand, said it has no plans to intervene in the dispute between the UK and Argentina over control of the Falklands islands, despite pressure on the Pope to mediate by Argentine president Cristina Kirchner. Nigel Baker, the UK ambassador to the Holy See, said Sunday that he had received assurances from Vatican officials that the Vatican's policy of non-intervention in the dispute had not changed.
"Following Mrs. Kirchner's visit to the Pope and her decision to use it as a platform, I thought it worth talking to Vatican officials to see if the Vatican would respond to the request for mediation," he told The Daily Telegraph.
President Cristina Fernandez sent an open letter in January to the British Prime Minister David Cameron calling on him to honor a United Nations resolution that dates back to 1960 and “end colonialism in all its forms and manifestations.” She wrote in the letter that the Malvinas (as the islands are known in Argentina) are 8,600 miles away from London and claimed that the Royal Navy had expelled Argentines living on the islands and replaced them with British settlers, a move that, she says, was a “blatant exercise in nineteenth-century colonialism.”
The inhabitants of the Falkland Islands have expressed surprise at the election of Pope Francis. Monsignor Michael McPartland from St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Stanley admitted that he had never actually heard of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio until his election as pope was announced. “I have to say I know nothing of him. I had never heard of him until 24 hours ago. But he is going to create some very interesting reactions,” said Monsignor McPartland. Senior figures from the Falklands said the pope is welcome to visit the islands so that he can understand the views of its inhabitants.