Holy See signs agreement with São Tomé and Príncipe
By Vatican News
One of the two islands in the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic, surrounded by a luxuriant archipelago, bears the name of Saint Thomas.
This was the name given by the Portuguese navigators who discovered it in 1470.
The Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe is one of the smallest African states. Independent since the mid-1970s, the country has a Catholic majority and is struggling against the spectre of endemic poverty.
On the Feast of the Assumption, the agreement between the Holy See and the small African nation was signed in the "Meeting Room" of the Foreign Ministry in São Tomé.
Autonomy for the common good
The Holy See Press Office released a statement on Tuesday announcing the agreement, saying that it is “drawn up in Italian and Portuguese and composed of 28 articles” and “will come into force with the exchange of the Instruments of Ratification”.
The agreement, the statement continues, "establishes the recognition of the juridical personality of the Catholic Church and ecclesiastical institutions and defines the legal framework of relations between the Church and the State."
It also "further consolidates the bonds of friendship and cooperation existing between the two Parties, which, while safeguarding their independence and autonomy, are committed to working together for the spiritual and material well-being of the human person, as well as for the promotion of the common good."
The communiqué reports that Archbishop Giovanni Gaspari, Apostolic Nuncio to São Tomé and Príncipe, signed the agreement on behalf of the Holy See, and Mrs. Edite Ramos da Costa Ten Jua, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Communities, on the part of São Tomé and Príncipe.
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