ROME, JUNE 30, 2003 (Zenit.org).- For the first time since 1919, a handbook gives a view of all the concordats stipulated by the Holy See with states, from Pius VII with Napoleon Bonaparte to John Paul II with the Czech Republic.
The most important novelty of the “Enchiridion dei Concordati: Due Secoli di Storia dei Rapporti Chiesa-Stato” (Enchiridion of Concordats. Two Centuries of History in Church-State Relations) is the publication of the most recent texts of the Holy See with Central and Eastern European States, which were “reborn to freedom” after 1990, according to the prologue written by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano.
Expressing his satisfaction with the initiative, the cardinal said he hopes “this new work will contribute to make better known the Holy See’s commitment to the promotion of new avenues of cooperation with civil authorities, thus giving to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and asking Caesar to give to God what is God’s.”
The handbook, published by Dehonian Publishers of Bologna, Italy, offers chronologically all the Holy See’s agreements with states over the past two centuries. The concordats are presented in their original language, together with their translation into Italian. Modifications to the originals are included.
A concordat, an agreement between civil and ecclesiastical authorities on matters of mutual concern, is a genuine international contract, which binds the parties juridically and guarantees the right of religious liberty and worship of Catholics in various countries.
The Holy See maintains diplomatic relations with 174 states, as well as with the European Union, and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. It maintains relations of a special nature with the Russian Federation and the Palestine Liberation Organization.
According to the introduction of the “Enchiridion of Concordats,” all these international pacts are a “testimony of international recognition of the moral, cultural, social and religious role that the Catholic Church plays in the world.”
The numerous concordats signed by John Paul II “demonstrate that our time is experiencing a fruitful period of relations between the Church and states,” the compilers add.