Why Holy See Signs Concordats on Religious Liberty

Archbishop Lajolo Explains the Goal

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ROME, NOV. 15, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican secretary for relations with states says that the Holy See signs concordats with nations in order to ensure the religious freedom of the citizens of those countries.

Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo illustrated the history and essential points of Church-state agreements promoted by the Vatican, when taking part today in a congress at the Gregorian University organized by the Polish Embassy.

His lecture was on “The Diplomacy of the Holy See in the 20th Century: Types of Concordats.”

The archbishop began by recalling that “the first concordat of history is conventionally considered as being that of Worms in 1122.”

“The ‘Concordia,’ or ‘Pax Wormatiensis,’ between Pope Callistus II and the Emperor Henry V put an end to the harsh controversy over the investiture of bishops, who at the time were also temporal princes and feudal lords,” he said.

“Concordats and other agreements are concluded with countries ruled by various forms of government, without any of these forms being excluded a priori,” the Vatican official explained.

“Consequently, the Holy See has sometimes been criticized for concluding agreements even with totalitarian regimes, in some way providing them with moral support and facilitating their presence on the international stage,” he noted.


“However, it should be remembered, first of all, that by such agreements the Holy See has never recognized any specific regime,” Archbishop Lajolo continued. “According to the norms of international law, it is the state that concludes an agreement, and not governments or regimes,” which come and go.

He added: “Nor can it be forgotten that, in concluding its agreements, the Holy See aims to protect the freedom of the Church in a country, and the right of individual faithful and citizens to religious freedom, and this can prove to be even more necessary precisely when those who govern a country do not fully respect fundamental rights.”

The prelate addressed the congress organized on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the first concordat between the Polish republic and the Holy See.

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