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Monday, December 20, 2004


VATICAN CITY, DEC 18, 2004 (VIS) - This morning in Lisbon, in Portugal's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, secretary for Relations with States, and Antonio Victor Monteiro Martins, the minister of Foreign Affairs and of the Portuguese Communities, exchanged documents of ratification of the Concordat between the Holy See and the Portuguese Republic, signed in the Vatican on May 18, 2004. The agreement regulates matters of common interest between the Church and State.

  "The Accord," says a communique, "which renews the original concordat signed on May 7, 1940, 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."

  In a declaration following the exchange of the documents of ratification, Archbishop Lajolo underscored the "great principles that inspire the Concordat: the Church's freedom" and "cooperation which allows the Church, with respect for the State's competence, to be associated with other private and public institutions in the service of society, for the good of man; and it does this above all through its educational and charitable works in line with two foundations of its activity: truth and love."

  He continued: "Also very important are the clauses on the teaching of religion and Catholic morality in public schools, the possibility to build new Catholic schools and the official recognition of the Portuguese Catholic University. How can we not see the importance of an accord in the field of the formation of young people who represent the future of the Church and society?"

  The secretary for Relations with States also cited, "as one of the typical dispositions of modern concordats, the stipulation to safeguard cultural heritage, which is extremely rich in Portugal and which has been greatly shaped by the religious values that make up the foundation on which the noble traditions of the Portuguese people have developed.  Putting aside space for religious purposes ... indicates the desire to continue to make these spiritual values a point of reference also for the future."
SS/CONCORDAT PORTUGAL/LAJOLO                    VIS 20041220 (380)

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