Rome – Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin was given a joyful welcome upon his arrival to East Timor. The Italian prelate's visit coincides with the 500th anniversary of the evangelization of East Timor.
The highlight of his visit was the signing of an agreement between the Holy See and East Timor. According to Fides, the signing took place in Taci Tolo, an area visited by St. John Paul II in 1989.
A statement released today by the Holy See Press Office reports the agreement was signed by Cardinal Parolin and Rui Maria de Araujo, Prime Minister of East Timor.
"The agreement, noting the good relations that have developed between the Holy See and the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, and considering the historical and current role played by the Catholic Church in the life of the nation for the development of the human person, defines and guarantees the legal status of the Catholic Church and regulates various areas, including canonical marriage, places of worship, Catholic institutions of education and education, the teaching of religion in schools, the Church's charitable activities, pastoral care in the armed forces and in penal institutions and hospitals, and the patrimonial & fiscal system," the statement read.
In a message sent to Cardinal Parolin last week, Pope Francis noted the importance of the 5th centenary celebrations of the country's evangelization.
"The Catholic Church for 500 years has provided great spiritual, human and material support for the people of Timor, making a decisive contribution towards Timor-Leste's process of liberation," he wrote.