Pope tricked into seeming to back Falkland Islands campaign

Pope Francis has been drawn into Argentina’s dispute with Britain over the Falkland Islands after a brief incident at a general audience.

During the Pope’s audience on August 19, an activist from the “Dialogue for Malvinas” campaign thrust a sign towards Francis’s hands as he passed by.

It read: “It’s time for Argentina and Britain to discuss the Falklands.”

Gustavo Hoyo, director of the “dialogue” movement, has been tweeting pictures of ordinary Argentines and well-known faces holding the placard.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner tweeted a photo of the Pope with the sign.

Argentina has repeatedly called for a bilateral discussion between London and Buenos Aires, excluding the Falkland islanders themselves.

They base their argument on a 1965 United Nations Decolonisation Committee resolution which “invites the governments of Argentina and Great Britain to proceed … with a view to finding a peaceful solution to the problem”.

President Fernandez de Kirchner has frequently lobbied the Pope to intervene on her country’s behalf, but the Vatican has been clear it doesn’t wish to involve itself in the dispute.

A Vatican spokesman said on Wednesday: “There has been no change of position on this issue. The Pope does not want to enter into this debate.”

The spokesman added: “The Pope is presented with many things during his general audiences. He receives a long queue of people.”

“Holding something does not mean that he is taking a position either way.”

Before he was Pope, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio firmly stated the Malvinas are Argentina’s and were usurped by the UK.

Britain and the Falkland Islanders have long rejected calls for dialogue, with the argument that there is nothing to discuss.

In a 2013 referendum, the islanders voted overwhelmingly to remain British.

A spokesman for the UK Foreign Office said the Falkland Islanders have a right to decide their own future, as enshrined in the UN Charter and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.


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