The Holy See and the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe signed a new agreement on August 15 which establishes, among other things, the recognition of the legal personality of the Catholic Church in the country.
This was confirmed by the press office of the Holy See on Tuesday, August 16, through a statement, specifying that the meeting took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of São Tomé.
The agreement, drawn up in Italian and Portuguese and made up of 28 articles, It will enter into force with the exchange of the instruments of ratification.
This document establishes the recognition of the legal personality of the Catholic Church and ecclesiastical institutions and defines the legal framework of relations between the Church and the State.
As detailed by the Holy See, the agreement further strengthens the bonds of friendship and cooperation existing between the two parties, which, safeguarding their independence and autonomy, undertake to work together for the spiritual and material well-being of the human person, as well as for the promotion of the common good.
The ceremony was attended by Monsignor António Lungieki Bengui, Apostolic Administrator for the vacant see of the Diocese of São Tomé and Príncipe; Bishop Manuel António Mendes dos Santos, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of São Tomé and Príncipe; Christopher Seiler, Secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature in Angola and in São Tomé and Príncipe; Telmo da Glória Serôdio, Chancellor of the Curia of São Tomé, and Mrs. Maria Madalena Cravid, Secretary of the Curia.
Also participating were Ambassador Carlos Castro, Director of the Department of International Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Mrs. Melany dos Santos, Chief of Staff of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Mr. Ambassador Mateus Meira Rita, Advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
It should be remembered that, during his trip to Africa in 2009, Pope Francis met with the episcopates of Cameroon, Angola and São Tomé and Príncipe, where he reaffirmed “the urgency of evangelization, which falls in the first place to the bishops, underlining the collegial dimension founded on sacramental communion”.,
He also invited the prelates to “promote the pastoral care of marriage and the family, of the liturgy and of culture, also so that the laity can resist the push of sects and esoteric groups”, as well as to continue in “the exercise of charity and the defense of the rights of the poor”.
In addition, according to the latest surveys, 94.4% of the population of this country professes Christianity and the percentage of believers has increased in recent years, reaching 98.76%.