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Holy See, Angola Agreement “will allow Church to work for common good”: Archbishop

The Apostolic Nuncio in Angola, Archbishop Giovanni Gaspari receives the regulatory and administrative instruments of the Framework Agreement signed between the Holy See and the Republic of Angola in 2019 from Angola's Minister of State and Head of the Civil Cabinet of the President of the Republic, Adão de Almeida. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The regulatory and administrative instruments of the Framework Agreement signed between the Holy See and the Republic of Angola in 2019 is expected to facilitate the Catholic Church’s role in working for the common good, an Angolan Archbishop has said.

Speaking at the formal handing over of the legal and administrative regulatory sectoral instruments of the Framework Agreement Tuesday, October 12, the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Angola and São Tomé (CEAST), Archbishop Manuel Imbamba, thanked the Angolan State for its “willingness to collaborate with the Catholic Church.”

“Today we are receiving these instruments that will regulate all our social and pastoral activities for the good of all of us,” Archbishop Imbamba said.

The Local Ordinary of Angola’s Saurimo Archdiocese noted that the Framework-Agreement will “allow the Church to work for the common good and in favor of the Angolan society and all those who want to see Angola grow in the path of good, justice, peace and unity.”

The Church wants to be that space of “encounter, communion and dialogue that will help to light paths, consciences and perspectives that will help us to find dignity and affirmation of happiness and realization,” he further said.

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The Framework Agreement between the Holy See and the Republic of Angola was signed on 13 September 2019 and came into force a couple of months later, on 21 November 2019.

Under the Framework Agreement, the Republic of Angola and the Holy See commit to cooperate for the spiritual and material wellbeing of all, while respecting the dignity and rights of the human person.

In the document, the Angolan State recognizes the juridical personality of the Catholic Church in the Southern African nation and ownership of its properties.

Addressing journalists during the October 12 event, Bishop Belmiro Chissengueti of Angola’s Cabinda Diocese said the “signing of the Agreement in 2019 had an immediate application within the international legal system and therefore in Angola.”

The instruments, he explained, lacked regulation, as there were aspects that needed clarification for a better realization.

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A case in point was the issue of Church Marriage, Bishop Chissengueti said, and explained, “In practical terms what is intended is to end the issue of civil and religious marriage. But the religious marriage will only have civil validity, as long as the civil and canonical aspects are fulfilled.”

Once the marriage has taken place, the transcription of the act to the civil registry “must be made,” he further said.

The member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (CSSp – Spiritans) added, “Civil marriage would be recognized by the State provided that the process was started at a civil registry office.”

The legal instruments of the agreement between the Holy See and Angola further establish tax exemption for the Catholic Church and free entry visas for Catholic missionaries.

“The issue of visa facilitation for missionaries, foreseen in the Framework-Agreement is a sigh of relief, since it will allow citizens from other parts of the world invited to do missionary work in Angola to enter the country without many constraints,” Bishop Chissengueti said.

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The task of evangelization, the Angolan-born Bishop said, “requires qualified personnel and in this sense the Church has encountered some difficulty in obtaining visas.”

“With this instrument, we gain a lot in our missionary work,” he added.

On his part, the Apostolic Nuncio in Angola, Archbishop Giovanni Gaspari, said during the October 12 event, “The documents approved mark the expression of a new form of relationship, of collaboration and friendship, in which the parties commit themselves to fulfilling their responsibilities.”

For Angola's Minister of State and Head of the Civil Cabinet of the President of the Republic, Adão de Almeida, the “Catholic Church is a faithful partner of the state in working for the good of Angolans.”

“Angola will continue to count on the strategic partnership of the Catholic Church, to deal with the present problems and challenges and together build a better future,” the Angolan government official said.

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