Falkland Islanders take on an Argentine Pope
By Marcos Brindicci
Port Stanley, Falkland Islands
Czech journalist Jeri Hasek appeared in the hotel lobby saying to some of us Argentines, “You have a Pope! An Argentine Pope!”
The truth is, here in the Falkland Islands some swearing was heard after the news. I have to admit that, no matter what your opinion on the church and religious matters are, it is kind of exciting to learn that someone from your country gets to be Pope. But as an Argentine, I know this will boost our ego, and that can’t be good.
I left the hotel to find my co-workers from Reuters TV to tell them the news and I ran into Patrick Watts, a Falkland Islands journalist. Patrick told me, “Well, you can’t have the Falklands, but at least you got yourselves a Pope.”
Two Chilean journalists drove around town to break the news to us. One of them said, “God, if you Argentines thought you were the best before, now you’re going to be unbearable.” A British journalist just said, “Sorry, bad luck for you, guys.”
Of course, I couldn’t help but think about how the story was going to be covered in Buenos Aires and that my colleague there was going to have to work hard to find things related to Jorge Bergoglio, now Pope Francis. Many Argentine journalists in the Falklands to cover the referendum started saying that this would probably make our job in Buenos Aires more difficult. I know that we Argentines usually complain about just about anything, but I believe this brings us a new story to cover in Argentina, and that’s exciting.
So, what can I do about the news of the first Argentine and South American Pope when you’re on an island where the next flight to Argentina is not for three days and Port Stanley’s religious population is mainly Anglican? We decided to visit St. Mary’s, the only Catholic church in town.
After a wait, Monsignor Michael McPartland came to us. When asked about the number of churchgoers his answer was, “How many fingers do you have on one hand? Well, that, minus one.”
So, not much of a religious reaction here in the Falklands. But he invited us to his home to watch the broadcast from the Vatican with the new Pope, and he told us that he would love it if Francis came to the Islands after a visit to Argentina.
I was not really expecting any reaction to the new Pope from the Falkland Islands. Nevertheless, everybody’s talking about it. Even on the radio, they have already started discussing the impact of the new Pope on the Islands’ conflict with Argentina.
Of course, dinner was the time for joking at our table. Someone asked Brazilian journalist Silvia Colombo, “Do you Brazilians have a Pope? Because we do.” Her reply was brilliant; She showed her open right hand, her five fingers symbolizing the number of soccer world cups that Brazil has won.
In the end, it all comes down to soccer. Today a popular Argentine newspaper asked the question, “Will Pope Francis break the curse and see his national soccer team win the World Cup?”