Thursday, October 31, 2013

President Obiang of Equatorial Guinea Meets with Pope

President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea met with Pope Francis at the Vatican last week and exchanged with Vatican officials the instruments of ratification of an agreement with the Holy See on relations between the Catholic Church and the Republic of Equatorial Guinea.

The agreement was signed a year ago in the Basilica of Mongomo and enters into force with the exchange of instruments between the two parties.

According to Vatican Radio, the agreement confirms the good bilateral relations between the two states, recognizes the legal personality of the church and its institutions, and covers canonical marriage, places of worship, educational institutions, and spiritual assistance to the Catholic faithful in hospitals and prisons.

The Vatican described the meeting between President Obiang and the Pontiff as “cordial,” and said that Pope Francis had highlighted “the positive contribution of the Catholic Church in favour of the human, social, and cultural development of the country…, particularly in the fields of education and welfare, as was the collaboration with the State to improve the standard of living of the population.”

The United Nations estimates that Equatorial Guinea is 93% Christian and 87% Roman Catholic.

The U.S. Department of State reported in 2013, “The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom and, in practice, the government generally respected religious freedom…. There were no reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice.”

“We were well received by the Holy Father, who is very interested in our country and has sent greetings and blessings to the people of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea,” said President Obiang at a press conference held after his return from Rome.

After their meeting, President Obiang attended a mass at the tomb St. Peter. He returned to Equatorial Guinea shortly afterward on Sunday, October 27, and held a press conference to discuss the significance and success of the historic meeting.