Brazil Advances Accord Negotiations With Holy See

Will Bring Religious Education to Public Schools

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RIO DE JANIERO, Brazil, AUG. 20, 2009 ( A bilateral accord that will regulate relations between the Holy See and Brazil was approved last week by the latter’s Foreign Relations Commission of the Chamber of Deputies.

In an article published Monday on the Web page of the Brazilian bishops’ conference, Archbishop Orani João Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro affirmed that this is a positive step for the Church in this country.

He stated that this agreement creates a juridical statute for the Church in Brazil, which has been «needed since the proclamation of the Republic in 1889.»
The accord, signed last November during a visit of Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to the Vatican, will be brought to the Federal Senate next week for ratification.
The archbishop explained that the agreement is adapted to the constitution of the secular State and does not grant extraordinary privileges to the Catholic Church.
The document, which consists of a preamble and 20 articles, «ratifies a relationship that has always existed and opens perspectives, for other religions as well,» he added. He mentioned, for example, the accord’s support of a greater respect for freedom of worship.
The prelate added that the agreement regulates «the juridical statute of the Catholic Church in Brazil, recognition of titles of study, religious education in public schools, canonical marriage and the fiscal regime.»

No privileges
When the agreement was signed in November, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Pope’s secretary for relations with states, highlighted some of the main elements of the text.
He underlined «the recognition of the juridical personality of the institutions foreseen in the canonical ordering, the teaching of the Catholic religion in schools, as well as the other religious confessions, the recognition of ecclesiastical decisions on marital matters, the insertion of places dedicated to worship in urban ordering, and the recognition of ecclesiastical academic titles.»
Archbishop Mamberti also pointed out at the time that «it would be out of place to speak of privileges because there is no privilege in the recognition of a social reality of such great historical and current relevance as the Catholic Church is in Brazil.»

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

The prelate added that this accord does not take anything away from «what is owed to citizens of other religious faiths and of different ideological convictions.»

Archbishop Mamberti expressed his desire that the text «might enter into force as soon as possible and contribute, as stated in its objectives,» to «consolidate the ties between the Holy See and Brazil and increasingly favor the orderly development of the mission of the Catholic Church.»

As well, he affirmed the hope that it will «promote the spiritual and material progress of all the inhabitants of the country, and to collaborate, in so far as possible, in the solution of the great problems that preoccupy humanity today.»

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