Pope Francis and the Falkland Islands dispute

Pope Francis, who was born in Buenos Aires and is the first pontiff from Latin America, once told a  congregation to "Go and kiss this land which is ours, and seem to us far away" when referring to the Falklands, it is reported today.

Speaking at a service for fallen soldiers, before visiting an Argentine cemetery in the Falklands in 2009, the then Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio said: "There are angels who will accompany you, who are sons, husbands and fathers of yours, who fell there, in an almost religious movement, of kissing with their blood the native soil," reports The Daily Telegraph, from comments recorded by news agency Diarias y Noticias.

Now known as Pope Francis, the remarks were not the first time the son of Italian immigrants had waded into the row over the disputed islands.

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In a mass in Buenos Aires last year to mark the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War, he told veterans and their families Britain was a "usurper" of the contentious islands, according to The Daily Telegraph.

He apparently said: "We come to pray for those who have fallen, sons of the homeland who set out to defend his mother, the homeland, to claim the country that is theirs and they were usurped."

The first Pope from Latin America is said to have told the families of the 649 Argentinians who died in the conflict to remember those who had fallen.

[Related: Everything you need to know about Jorge Mario Bergoglio]

He added: "Many young people were there and could not return. Others returned but none could forget.

"Many scars, many families destroyed by permanent absence or a return cut short. The country needs to remember them all."

"The country cannot exclude from its memory any of those who were called; it has to take care of so many hearts with scars and say thank you, to those who remained on the islands or submerged in water, all of them.

"The country should recognise their scars."

His election came a day after Falkland islanders voted 99.8per cent in favour of retaining British sovereignty in a referendum.

[Related: The view from Argentina: A surprise choice, even for us]

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