As Cardinal Pietro Parolin visits the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Church has signed agreements with the country’s government to define the Church’s legal status in the areas of health, finance, pastoral care, and social services. Source: Vatican News.
As part of the Vatican Secretary of State's visit to Kinshasa in Pope Francis’ name, the Congolese Catholic Bishops’ Conference (CENCO) signed five agreements with the DRC Government recognising the official status of the Church, which had previously been registered as a non-profit organisation.
The ceremony took place on Saturday in the presence of Cardinal Parolin.
The agreements were signed by various government ministers and by CENCO president, Archbishop Marcel Utembi Tapa, putting into practice the Framework Agreement signed by the Holy See and the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2016 on matters of common interest.
Ratified in 2019 and entered into force in 2020, the Framework Agreement has never been fully implemented. A decree last June by Prime Minister Sama Lukonde called for its implementation and thus recognition of the Church as a legal entity.
Following months of negotiations and considerable engagement by CENCO, the Apostolic Nunciature, and the relevant government ministries, a Joint Commission then drew up five specific agreements governing the areas of religious instruction in schools, Catholic educational institutions, the Church’s charitable-assistance activity, pastoral care in penitentiary and hospital institutions, and the Church’s patrimonial and fiscal regime.
Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu of Kinshasa said this “historic day for the Congolese Church” has been awaited “for over six years.”
“Before we worked and no one—including diocesan bishops—knew what the Church’s rights and duties were with respect to the government; now things will be clearer. We will know that all the work we do is done within legislation recognised by the State.”
DRC and Catholic Church sign agreements as Cardinal Parolin visits (By Salvatore Cernuzio, Vatican News)