Brazil signs historic agreement with Vatican

 An agreement between the Holy See and the Brazilian Government was signed on 13 November recognizing the juridical status of the Catholic Church in Brazil. The Agreement was signed, on the part of the Holy See, by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States, and on the part of Brazil, by Celso Amorim, Foreign Affairs Minister.

In a statement, the Brazilian Bishops' Conference (CNBB) said that although "the Catholic Church is recognized in her juridical nature, by Brazilian law in the Proclamation of the Republic," with this accord, the situation already established is solidified and formalized.

"The specific identity of the Church consists in preaching the Gospel," the statement said. However, in her activity in society, she needs a juridical structure and that is precisely the objective of the Agreement. The statement also explains that the agreement does not "concede privileges to the Catholic Church, nor does it discriminate other religious groups. Each one of its articles respects the juridical status established in the Federal Constitution and Brazilian law," and guarantees equal treatment of all entities.

Archbishop Gerardo Lyrio Rocha of Mariana, President of the CNBB said: "the great importance of the agreement is the recognition of the juridical status of the Catholic Church in Brazil." It also includes "the recognition of academic titles, religious studies in public schools, canonical marriage..."

Some of the aspects mentioned by Archbishop Lyrio were: the collaboration with the State in the cultural area; religious assistance for citizens in health care centers or in jail; equal treatment in schools and other Catholic academic institutions; Catholic instruction in addition to that of other religious groups in public schools; recognition of civil effects of marriage and ecclesiastical decisions in matrimonial matters.

The Agreement, which is considered an historic landmark, was the brain-child of former CNBB President, Bishop Ivo Lorscheider, who passed away last year and since the 90s had been proposing the idea of a formal petition to the Holy See for an agreement between the Church and the Brazilian Government that would be more perfect and complete.

Source: Fides

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