The Holy See and the government of Cameroon have signed a legal agreement regulating relations between the Catholic Church and the African state.
The Vatican said the signing of a “framework agreement” on the “legal status of the Catholic Church in Cameroon” took place Jan. 13 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cameroon in the capital Yaounde.
“The agreement, which consists of nine articles, regulates the relationship between the Church and the State who, within a framework of the independence and autonomy of both parties, undertake to work together for the moral, spiritual and material wellbeing of the human person and for the promotion of the common good,” the Vatican statement read. “It will come into effect upon signing, in accordance with article 9 of the same Agreement.”
The agreement was signed, on behalf of the Holy See, by Archbishop Piero Pioppo, apostolic nuncio to Cameroon, and for the Republic of Cameroon, by Pierre Moukoko Mbonjo, minister for External Relations.
The legal agreement, which is expected to harmonize and facilitate the presence of the Church in the country, follows a visit by President Paul Biya in October. The Cameroonian leader, who was personally invited to come to the Vatican by Pope Francis himself, is said to be a strong proponent of interreligious dialogue in a country where large Christian and Muslim populations peacefully coexist.
Catholics number over 5 million in the country, with five ecclesiastical provinces.