CONGO – Framework Agreement to govern Church – state relations signed
The Holy See and the Republic of the Congo have finalised a framework agreement on the relations between the Catholic Church and the state. The agreement was signed at the Palace of the People of the Republic of the Congo in Brazzaville by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and Congo’s Prime Minister, Clément Mouamba in the presence of the Congo’s President, Denis Sassou-N’guesso.
The solemn act was attended by various Church officials: Archbishop Francisco Escalante Molina, apostolic nuncio in Congo; Archbishop Anatole Milandou of Brazzaville; Bishop Daniel Mizonzo of Nkai, president of the Episcopal Conference; Bishop Louis Portella-Mbuyu of Kinkala; Bishop Miguel Angel Olaverri, S.D.B., of Pointe-Noire; Bishop Yves Marie Monot of Ouesso; Bishop Jean Gardin of Impfondo; Bishop Victor Abagna Mossa of Owando; Bishop Urbain Ngassongo of Gambona; Bishop Bienvenu Manamika of Dolisie; Msgr. Gianfranco Gallone, official of the Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State; Rev. Patrick Han Saw Zay, secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature.
Members of the Congolese government also attended: Firmin Ayessa, minister of State and director of the Cabinet of the President of the Republic; Raymond Zéphirin Mboulou, minister of the Interior, Decentralisation and Local Development; Jean Claude Gakosso, minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Congolese abroad; Jean Baptiste Ondaye, secretary general of the Presidency of the Republic; Benjamin Boumakani, secretary general of the government; Martin Adouki, advisor to the President of the Republic and head of the Diplomatic Department; Cyprien Sylvestre Mamina, secretary general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Gisèle Ngondo, director of the Cabinet of the minister of Foreign Affairs; Jean Jacques Luc Nianga, adjunct secretary general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Albert Nkoua, adjunct secretary general and head of department for Africa, Europe, America, Asia and Oceania.
Consisting of a preamble and eighteen articles, the framework agreement guarantees the Catholic Church’s right to carry out her mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It recognizes the legal personality of the Church and of Catholic institutions. The agreement affirms that both the Church and the State, while safeguarding the independence and autonomy proper to them, will undertake to work together for the moral, spiritual and material wellbeing of individuals and to promote the common good. It will enter into force upon the exchange of the Instruments of Ratification.
The Church runs a large network of schools, hospitals and private businesses in the Republic of the Congo. About half of the country’s citizens are Catholic.