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Missionary Accord (1940): text Missionary Accord (1940): text

Salazar put the remains of the far-flung Portuguese Empire under this concordat. After World War II, when other European countries were beginning to withdraw from their colonies, he refused to give them independence. Although his regime was overthrown in 1974, Portuguese colonies and even ex-colonies continued to be governed by this concordat until the new concordat of 2004.

Finally, in October 2010 the former Portuguese colony of Cape Verde, which has been independent since 1975, signed its own concordat with the Vatican, making it the third Portuguese-speaking country to do so, after Portugal and Brazil.

Missionary Accord between the Holy See and the Portuguese Republic

[signed 7 May 1940, ratified 23 April 1975]

Taking into account:

 That on today's date the Concordat between the Holy See and the Portuguese Republic has been signed;

That in said Concordat, in articles XXVI-XXVIII, the fundamental norms relative to the missionary activity are set forth;

That during the negotiations for the conclusion of the same Concordat, the Portuguese Government has proposed that said norms be further developed in a special Convention,

The Holy See and the Portuguese Government have resolved to make an Accord meant to regulate in a more complete manner the relations between Church and State, with regard to the religious life in the Portuguese Colonies, without prejudice to what was previously agreed for the Patronage of the Orient.

To this end they have appointed as Plenipotentiaries respectively:

His Eminence the Very Reverend Cardinal Luigi Maglione, Secretary of State of His Holiness;

and His Excellency General Eduardo Augusto Marques, former Minister of the Colonies, President of the Corporative Chamber, Grand Cross of the Military Order of Christ, of Order of St. Benedict of Aviz and of the Order of the Colonial Empire;

His Excellency Dr. Mário de Figueiredo, former Minister of Justice and Religious Affairs, Professor and Director of the Faculty of Law of the University of Coimbra, Member of Parliament and Grand Cross of the Military Order of St. James of the Sword;

His Excellency Dr. Vasco Francisco Caetano de Quevedo, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Holy See, [holder of the] Grand Cross of the Military Order of Christ and of St. Gregory the Great;

who, with reservation of ratification, have agreed on the following:

Article I.  The ecclesiastical subdivision of the Portuguese Colonies will be made of dioceses and autonomous missionary districts.

It is up to the Bishops of the dioceses to organise, through the secular [and the] regular clergy, the religious life and apostolate of their own diocese.

Within the missionary districts, the religious life and apostolate will be ensured by missionary corporations recognised by the Government, without prejudice to missionaries of other corporations or of the secular clergy to establish themselves on said territories, with the [Government's] approval.

Article II.  The ordinaries of dioceses and missionary districts, whenever there are not enough Portuguese missionaries, can, in agreement with the Holy See and the Government, call for foreign missionaries, who will be admitted to the missions of the Portuguese missionary organisation, on condition that they declared to submit themselves to the Portuguese laws and courts of justice. This submission will be such that it is appropriate to ecclesiastics.

Article III.  The dioceses will be governed by resident Bishops and the missionary districts by Vicars- or Prefects-Apostolic, all Portuguese nationals.

Within the former, as well as the latter, the Catholic missionaries of the secular clergy, or of religious corporations, nationals as well as foreigners, will be subjected entirely to the ordinary jurisdiction of the aforesaid prelates in relation to missionary work.

Article IV.  The dioceses and missionary districts will be represented at the Government of the Metropole [Mainland Portugal] by their respective Prelate or by his delegate, and the missionary corporations [will be represented] by their respective Superior or by his delegate.

The aforementioned Superiors and delegates will hold Portuguese citizenship.

Article V.  The recognised missionary corporations will establish in Mainland Portugal or on the adjacent islands, houses for education and rest for their missionary personnel.

The houses for education and rest of each corporation constitute a single institute.

Article VI.  Henceforth three dioceses are established in Angola with seats in Luanda, New Lisbon [now Huambo] and Silva Porto [now Kuito]; three in Mozambique, with seats in Lourenzo Marques [now Maputo], Beira and Nampula; one in Timor, with seat in Dili. Furthermore it will be possible to establish missionary districts in said Colonies and in Guinea.

The Holy See will be allowed, in agreement with the Government, to change the number of dioceses and missionary districts. The borders of the dioceses and missionary districts will be defined by the Holy See in such a way to correspond, as much as possible, to the administrative subdivision, and always within the borders of Portuguese territory.

Article VII.  The Holy See, before proceeding to appoint an Archbishop or resident Bishop, or Coadjutor with the right of succession, will advise the Portuguese Government of the name of the chosen person, in order to know whether there are any general political objections to that person. Silence from the Government, thirty days after said notification, will be interpreted as to mean that there are no objections. All matters covered by this article will be kept secret.

When within the individual dioceses or missionary districts, new missionary directorates are established, whenever the positions of their respective directors cannot be filled by Portuguese nationals, [the appointment] will be made only after consulting the Portuguese Government.

Once an ecclesiastic district has been established or become vacant, the Holy See, before the final appointment, will be allowed to immediately constitute a provisional Apostolic Administrator, advising the Government of the appointment just made.

Article VIII.  Recognition is given to the juridical personality of the dioceses, the missionary districts, the other ecclesiastical bodies and the other religious institutes of the Colonies, as well as of the missionary institutes, men's and women's, that are established on Mainland Portugal or on the adjacent islands.

Article IX.  The recognised missionary corporations, men's and women's, regardless of the support received by the Holy See, will be subsidised according to their needs by the Government of the Metropole and the Government of their respective Colony. For the distribution of said subsidies, not only will the number of pupils in the houses for education and those of missionaries in the colonies be taken into account, but also the missionary institutes, including the seminaries and the other institutes for the indigenous clergy. For the distribution of the subsidies paid by the colonies, the dioceses will be considered under the same conditions as the missionary districts.

Article X.  In addition to the subsidies to which the previous article refers, the Government will continue to donate land available to the Catholic missions for their development and for new foundations, free of charge. To the same end, the bodies mentioned in Art. VIII will be allowed to receive specific subsidies and accept inheritances, bequests and donations.

Article XI.  [The following] will be exempted from any tax or levy, in the Mainland as well as in the colonies:

a) All the assets that the bodies [mentioned] in Art. VIII own in conformity with their aims;

b) All the inter vivos [“between the living”] acts of acquisition or conveyance, made by the aforementioned bodies for the realisation of their aims, and all the provisions mortis causa [“(to take effect) on the occasion of death”] for the same aims, in favour of the [above]mentioned bodies.

Furthermore, sacred images and other ornaments will be exempted from all custom duties.

Article XII.  In addition to the subsidies covered in Article IX, the Portuguese Government guarantees adequate honorariums to the resident Bishops — as Superiors of the missions in their respective dioceses — to the Vicars and Prefects-Apostolic, and it preserves the right to pensions. For travels or moves, however, they will not be entitled to any special subsidy.

Article XIII.  The Portuguese Government will keep paying a pension to the missionary personnel currently retired, and in the future it will pay it to the members of the secular missionary clergy, once they have completed their term of service.

Article XIV.  All missionary personnel will be entitled to the reimbursement of travel expenses, to and from the colonies. In order to take advantage of this entitlement, it will suffice, for the Ordinary in the Metropole or his delegate to provide the Government with the names of the persons [travelling], together with a medical declaration proving the necessary physical health needed to live in the overseas territories, without the need for any other formality. If the Government, for well-founded reasons, deems the medical declaration insufficient, it will be allowed to order a new examination, to be carried out in an appropriate manner by trusted doctors, who will always be female, for persons of this sex.

Travels back to the Metropole due to illness or to take advantage of the licenza graziosa [special dispensation?], if proposed by their respective Prelates, will be authorised in accordance with the current rules for public functionaries.

Article XV.  The Portuguese Catholic missions will be allowed to freely expand, in order to exercise their typical forms of activity, in particular the founding and directing of schools for natives and Europeans, boys' and girls' colleges, institutes for primary, secondary and professional education, seminaries, catechumenates [pre-baptism courses?], clinics and hospitals.

In agreement with the local ecclesiastical Authority, Portuguese missionaries can be entrusted with religious and educational assistance services for Portuguese subjects in foreign territories.

Article XVI.  In the indigenous missionary schools, the teaching of the Portuguese language is compulsory, while the use of the indigenous language, for the teaching of the Catholic religion, will remain entirely free, in harmony with the principles of the Church.

Article XVII.  The Ordinaries, the missionaries, the auxiliary personnel and the missionary nuns, since they are not public functionaries, are not subjected to the disciplinary code nor to other regulations or formalities to which public functionaries may be subjected.

Article XVIII.  The Prelates of the dioceses and missionary districts, and the superiors of the missionary corporations in the Metropole, will provide the Government annually with information about the missionary movement and the missions' external activity.

Article XIX.  The Holy See will continue to make use of its authority in order for the Portuguese missionary corporations to intensify the evangelisation of the natives and the missionary apostolate.

Article XX.  The parochial organisational structure of the diocese of Cape Verde will remain in force.

Article XXI.  The two texts of this Accord, in Portuguese and Italian language, will equally bear witness to it.

Done in two copies.

Vatican City, 7 May 1940.






Accordo Missionario tra la Santa Sede e la Repubblica Portoghese
Firma 15 febbraio 1975; ratifica: 23 aprile 1975.

Accordo missionário entre la Santa Sé e a República Portuguesa
AAS 32 (1940) 235-244.

 Translated from the Italian version, with its defects amended by reference to the Portuguese original, by Giulio Portioli



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