Vatican plays down significance of Pope Francis Falklands photo
The Vatican on Thursday played down the significance of Pope Francis agreeing to pose for a picture with a placard calling for Britain-Argentina talks over the disputed Falkland Islands.
The Argentinian pontiff was handed the sign on Wednesday during his weekly walkabout in St Peter’s square. The Spanish text read: “The time has come for dialogue between Argentina and the United Kingdom on the Malvinas” -- using the Spanish term for the Falklands.
A Vatican spokesman suggested that the Argentinian pope may not even have been aware of what was written on the placard.
“It happened during a general audience when many believers present the pope with all sorts of objects, often to have a photograph taken,” said spokesman Ciro Benedettini.
On his recent trip to Bolivia, Francis was presented with a sculpture of the hammer and sickle emblem of communism that was made by an assassinat- ed left-wing priest.
After the photo went viral, Francis felt the need to explain that, while he admired the priest, he did not share his revolutionary views.
Britain rejects Argentina’s re- quests for dialogue over the longterm future of the Falklands, insisting there is nothing to discuss since 99.8 percent of the islanders voted in a 2013 referendum to remain a British overseas territory.
A placard which reads, “It’s time for dialogue between Argentina and the United Kingdom for Falklands,” is held by faithful as Pope Francis is greeted during the weekly general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican, Wednesday, Aug. 19.