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Pope Francis meets with Cape Verde Prime Minister

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday met with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Cape Verde, José Maria Pereira Neves. Cape Verde is a Portuguese speaking island nation located in the Atlantic Ocean, 570 kilometres off the coast of Africa. It has a population of over 500,000, of which over 75% is Catholic.

After his meeting with Pope Francis, the Prime Minister met with the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, and the Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, to exchange the instruments of ratification of the Agreement between the Holy See and the Republic of Cape Verde on the Statute of the Juridical Status of the Catholic Church in Cape Verde, signed in Praia June 10, 2013.

The Agreement further strengthens the bonds of friendship and cooperation between the two Parties, consisting of thirty articles and establishing the legal and regulatory framework for relations; it recognizes Sunday as a holiday and regulates various areas of common interest, such as the protection of places of worship and religious celebrations; it deals with the civil effects of marriage and canonical effects of ecclesiastical matters; it guarantees Catholic institutions of education and training as well as dealing with the teaching of religion in schools; it recognizes the welfare and charitable activities of the Church; it also provides for pastoral care in the military, in prison facilities and hospitals; and covers various economic and tax matters.

In an address at the signing ceremony, Cardinal Parolin said the signing of the agreement was a “historic event” for the Church in Cape Verde, and a sign of the “excellent cooperation” between the political authorities and the Catholic community.