This morning John Paul II received the prime minister of Portugal, Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, head of an official delegation that came to the Vatican for the signing of a new concordat between the Holy See and the Portuguese Republic.
Also present during the meeting were Cardinal Jose da Cruz Policarpo, patriarch of Lisbon, Archbishop Alfio Rapisarda, apostolic nuncio, and members of the Portuguese Episcopal Conference.
In a speech, the Pope said that the signing of the agreement “confirms the sentiment of reciprocal consideration that inspires relations between the Holy See and Portugal. While I express my profound appreciation for the concern that the government and the Assembly of the Portuguese Republic demonstrate for the Church’s mission which culminates with today’s signing, I hope that the new concordat may promote a greater understanding between the State authorities and the pastors of the Church for the common good of the nation.”
The concordat, signed this morning by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State of the Holy See, and Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, the Portuguese prime minister, regulates matters of common of interest between the Church and the State. A communique on today’s ceremony notes that “the changes which have occurred between the signing of the original concordat on May 7, 1940 and the present one render inapplicable part of its content, especially the Missionary Accord.
The new concordat regulates the juridical position of the Catholic Church and its institutions. The State guarantees the Church the public and free exercise of its activities, especially with regard to worship, magisterium and ministry, as well as jurisdiction in ecclesiastical matters. It also recognizes religious freedom, especially with regard to personal beliefs, the right to assemble, public expression, teaching and charitable activity.”