Brazil's President Visits Benedict XVI

Holy See Signs Agreement With Nation

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 13, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI and the president of Brazil have considered the fundamental role of the family in efforts to curb violence and social degradation.

The role of the family was among the issues discussed today when Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva visited the Pope in the Vatican.

After the president’s visit with the Pontiff, he went on to meet the Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for relations with states.

According to the Vatican press office, the Pope and Lula “analyzed certain aspects of the situation in Brazil, in particular the social policies directed to bettering the conditions of life for so many needy and marginalized persons and favoring the fundamental role of the family in the fight against violence and social degradation.”

“The collaboration between the Church and state in the context of the promotion of moral values and the common good, not only in that country but also in a particular way in favor of Africa, was also emphasized,” the Vatican communiqué added.

For his part, Lula recalled the Holy Father’s visit to his country in May of 2007 for the 5th General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Accord

After the visit, representatives of the Holy See and Brazil signed a bilateral accord that will regulate relations between the two entities.

Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, apostolic nuncio in Brazil, told Vatican Radio that the agreement is historic and gives the Church a “juridical certainty” in the country.

The accord signed today updates regulations derived from an 1890 decree.

“After 118 years, after so much time characterized by petitions and the desire of the Church and the bishops’ conference to put multiple aspects into writing, we can have the juridical certainty that the Catholic Church enjoys freedom of expression,” the prelate said.

The new accord “guarantees to all of society — independently of culture and creed — a religious teaching in public institutions,” something that opens the door “not just for Catholics, but also to other confessions,” he added.

In addition to recognizing canonical marriage and ecclesiastical academic titles, the agreement also foresees space allotted to the Church in developing areas where new neighborhoods are being constructed.

Brazil has more Catholics than any other country in the world. Some 74% of its 196 million habitants are Catholic; some 15% are Protestant.

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