DAILY CATHOLIC     WEDNESDAY     October 28, 1998     vol. 9, no. 211

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- The Vatican was represented at the October 26 signing of a peace treaty resolving territorial disputes between Ecuador and Peru. Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, the prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, was present at the ceremony in Brazil.

          Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, a native of Colombia, had traveled to Brasilia-- where peace negotiations had been in process for weeks, culminating a long series of talks that began in February 1995-- to express the concerns of the Holy See. The governments of Brazil, Argentina, and Chile had also voiced concerns over the border disputes, which had caused tensions between Peru and Ecuador for decades. Those concerns were finally resolved by a treaty which was signed yesterday by the Ecuadoran President Jamil Mahuad and his Peruvian counterpart Alberto Fujimori. Brazilian President Henrique Cardoso acted as host for the ceremony.

          Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos carried a message from Pope John Paul II to the signing parties: "I am happy to associate myself with you in spirit at this solemn moment of the signing of the accord." The Pope added that he would join in the celebration "of two peoples whom I love so much, and who today see the closing of a sad chapter in the history of your relations, and an opening to lasting peace."

          The Pope thanked the other Latin American governments which had joined in promoting the peace negotiations, praising them for their efforts. He also thanked the Catholic groups in Ecuador and Peru which had organized days of prayer for peace.

          In Lima, Peru the Catholic bishops of Peru and Ecuador encouraged their countrymen to accept the peace agreement that presidents of both countries will sign on Tuesday in Brasilia, Brazil and announced that they will hold a joint liturgical celebration to "strengthen peace an reconciliation."

          A final proposal that puts an end to the most volatile border conflict in the region was proposed to Peru and Ecuador by four guarantor countries -- the US, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile. The congresses of both countries had previously agreed to accept the proposal as " definitive." President Jamil Mahaud of Ecuador and President Alberto Fujimori of Peru both agreed to sign the agreement last Friday, but a wave of protests resulted in both nations. According to the agreement, Peru will have to provide navigational facilities to Ecuador in the Amazon river. In exchange, Ecuador will relinquish any territorial demand and will agree to mark and accept the boundaries as claimed by Peru.

          "We Peruvians had to make some concessions because when two parties negotiate, there is no agreement that can perfectly satisfy one of the sides," said Cardinal Augusto Vargas Alzamora, president of the Peruvian Bishops' Conference, in a message on Sunday. "This is the moment to provide full support to this decision because it means a definitive peace with a brother nation," he added. Archbishop Mario Ruiz Navas, president of Ecuador's Bishops' Conference, said, "The decision does not satisfy all our aspirations, but is certainly much better than a history of problems and the menace of the phantom of war. Let us concentrate now in the future and in the fruits of peace."

          According to a source in the Peruvian Bishops' Conference earlier this week, auxiliary Bishop Julio Teran Dutari of Quito, Ecuador, will visit Lima for a set of conferences. "This will also be the occasion to plan a liturgical celebration of reconciliation and fraternity among both episcopates and both Catholic peoples," the source said. The celebration could be celebrated on the bridge that connects the Peruvian city of Aguas Verdes with the Ecuadorian city of Huaquillas.

Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
CWN is not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

October 28, 1998       volume 9, no. 211


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