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  CONVENTIO*

INTER SANCTAM SEDEM ET LITUANIAE REM PUBLICAM
DE IURIDICIALIBUS RATIONIBUS QUAE RESPICIUNT
INTER CATHOLICAM ECCLESIAM ET CIVITATEM NECESSITUDINES

AGREEMENT
BETWEEN THE HOLY SEE AND THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA
CONCERNING JURIDICAL ASPECTS OF THE RELATIONS
BETWEEN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND THE STATE

 

The Holy See and the Republic of Lithuania,

with the aim of establishing a juridical framework for the relations between the Catholic Church and the Republic of Lithuania;

the Holy See, acting on the basis of the documents of the Second Vatican Council and the norms of Canon Law and the Republic of Lithuania, acting on the basis of the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania;

having regard to a special role of the Catholic Church, especially in strengthening the moral values of the Lithuanian nation, as well as its historical and current contribution to the social, cultural and educational spheres;

acknowledging that the majority of the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania profess the Catholic Religion;

adhering to the principle of religious freedom, enshrined in international juridical instruments;

have agreed on the following:

Article 1

1. The Holy See and the Republic of Lithuania agree that the Catholic Church and the State shall be independent and autonomous each within their field and, adhering to the said principle shall co-operate closely for the spiritual and material welfare of every individual and of society.

2. The competent authorities of the Republic of Lithuania and the competent authorities of the Catholic Church shall co-operate in ways acceptable to both Parties on educational, cultural, family and social issues and, in particular, in the field of protecting public morals and human dignity.

Article 2

1. The Republic of Lithuania shall recognise the status of juridical person for the Catholic Church.

2. All institutions of the Catholic Church in the Republic of Lithuania, which enjoy the status of public or private juridical persons in accordance with Canon Law, shall have the rights of a juridical person in civil law according to the legal acts of the Republic of Lithuania.

3. In accordance with the norms of Canon Law the competent authority of the Catholic Church may establish, change, suppress and recognise ecclesiastical juridical persons. The competent authority of the State shall be informed of such decisions so that the effects related thereto be registered pursuant to the requirements of the national law.

Article 3

The Republic of Lithuania shall guarantee the Catholic Church, its juridical and natural persons freedom to maintain contacts and to communicate without restrictions with the Holy See and other ecclesiastical institutions recognised by Canon Law both within Lithuania and abroad.

Article 4

The Republic of Lithuania shall recognise the freedom of the Catholic Church to carry out its pastoral, apostolic and charitable mission. The Catholic Church shall pursue its social, educational and cultural activities in accordance with Canon Law and the procedure prescribed by the laws of the Republic of Lithuania. The Republic of Lithuania shall also recognise freedom of the Catholic Church and its communities to perform publicly religious rites, develop its structure, educate and offer pastoral assistance to the faithful, as well as acknowledge the total competence of the Catholic Church in its sphere.

Article 5

1. The competent authority of the Catholic Church shall have the exclusive right to regulate freely ecclesiastical life, to establish and suppress ecclesiastical provinces, archdioceses, dioceses, apostolic administrations, territorial prelatures, territorial abbacies, personal prelatures, parishes, religious houses and other ecclesiastical juridical persons.

2. The outer borders of ecclesiastical circumscriptions in Lithuania shall be the same as the State borders of the Republic of Lithuania.

Article 6

1. The competent authority of the Catholic Church shall have the right to appoint freely persons to ecclesiastical offices in accordance with the norms of Canon Law.

2. The appointment, transfer and removal from office of bishops and those canonically equivalent to them shall be within the exclusive competence of the Holy See.

3. Before making public the appointment of a diocesan bishop, the Holy See shall, by courtesy only, confidentially inform the President of the Republic of Lithuania.

4. Only citizens of the Republic of Lithuania may be appointed bishops in Lithuania.

Article 7

1. The Republic of Lithuania shall guarantee the freedom to profess and practise publicly the Catholic religion.

2. The Republic of Lithuania shall guarantee respect for the sacred character of churches and chapels, as well as buildings, territories and religious places of worship directly related thereto, and shall defend them at the request of the competent authority of the Catholic Church.

3. The places referred to in paragraph 2 of this Article may be temporarily used for other purposes only for important reasons, provided that the explicit consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority has been given and the sacred character of these places is respected.

4. At the request of the competent ecclesiastical authority, the competent authorities of the Republic of Lithuania and the representatives thereof may take safety measures in places referred to in paragraph 2 of this Article, if such action is necessary to protect human life or health, as well as to save property of artistic or historical value.

5. In extraordinary cases the competent authority of the Republic of Lithuania may take safety measures in places referred to in paragraph 2 of this Article without the prior notification of the competent ecclesiastical authority, provided that such action is necessary to guarantee public order and the safety of individuals, or to preserve cultural treasures; it shall later notify the ecclesiastical authority thereof.

6. If public religious rites, such as processions, pilgrimages, etc., are performed in places which are not listed in paragraph 2 of this Article, the competent ecclesiastical authority shall notify the competent State authority thereof, so that public order and safety may be guaranteed, in accordance with the legal acts of the Republic of Lithuania.

Article 8

1. The Republic of Lithuania shall guarantee the inviolability of the secrecy inherent in sacramental confession, even when a priest is called to give witness or intervene in judicial proceedings.

2. Upon the instigation of criminal procedures against a member of the clergy, the relevant legal institutions, in consideration of their pastoral responsibility for the faithful, shall inform the competent ecclesiastical authority thereof, provided it does not negatively affect the investigation process.

Article 9

1. Public holidays include all Sundays and the feast-days listed below:

(a) January 1 - Solemnity of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, The New Year;

(b) The 2nd day of Easter;

(c) August 15 - Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Žolinė;

(d) November 1 - Solemnity of All Saints;

(e) December 25 - The Birth of the Lord, Christmas;

(f) December 26 - The 2nd day of Christmas.

2. The Parties to the present Agreement may modify this list of public holidays by mutual agreement.

Article 10

1. Ecclesiastical juridical persons shall have the right to acquire, administer, use and dispose of movable and immovable property in accordance with Canon Law and the legal acts of the Republic of Lithuania.

2. The juridical persons listed in Article 2 of the present Agreement, as well as churches, chapels and other sacred buildings, parish houses, curial buildings, seminaries, religious houses and other property belonging to the said juridical persons and used for pastoral, charitable, social, educational and cultural purposes, shall be exempt from national taxation.

3. The State shall exempt from taxation free-will offerings for the Catholic Church and offerings for pastoral, educational and charitable activities.

4. Property and income intended for purposes other than those listed in paragraphs 2 and 3 of this Article above shall be taxed in accordance with the procedure prescribed by the legal acts of the Republic of Lithuania.

Article 11

1. The Catholic Church shall have the right to build churches and other buildings for ecclesiastical purposes, as well as to extend and restore those already in existence pursuant to the procedure prescribed by the legal acts of the Republic of Lithuania.

2. Only the local Ordinary shall decide on the necessity of such constructions. The location for such buildings shall be chosen, and construction works shall be carried out in accordance with the procedure prescribed by the legal acts of the Republic of Lithuania.

Article 12

1. The Catholic Church shall be guaranteed the right to print, publish and distribute books, newspapers and magazines, as well as to engage in other publishing activities related to its mission.

2. The State shall support the publishing activities of the Church, its juridical persons and organisations in social, cultural, educational, moral and apostolic spheres in the same way as related publishing activities of other non-governmental organisations.

Article 13

1. A canonical marriage will have civil effects pursuant to the legal acts of the Republic of Lithuania from the moment of its religious celebration provided there are no impediments to the requirements of the laws of the Republic of Lithuania.

2. The time and manner of recording a canonical marriage in the civil register shall be established by the competent authority of the Republic of Lithuania, in co-ordination with the Conference of Lithuanian Bishops.

3. The preparation for a canonical marriage shall include informing future spouses of the teaching of the Catholic Church on the dignity of the sacrament of marriage, its unity and indissolubility, as well as the civil effects of the marriage bond as provided for by the laws of the Republic of Lithuania.

4. Decisions of ecclesiastical tribunals on the nullity of marriage and decrees of the Supreme Authority of the Church on the dissolution of the marriage bond are to be reported to the competent authorities of the Republic of Lithuania with the aim of regulating legal consequences of such decisions in accordance with the legal acts of the Republic of Lithuania.

Article 14

1. The Republic of Lithuania shall guarantee the right of the faithful to establish organisations to achieve the aims proper to the Catholic Church and to conduct them activities. Civil aspects of the activities of such organisations shall be regulated by the legal acts of the Republic of Lithuania.

2. Organisations and institutions of the faithful may use the name "Catholic" in their title only on receiving the written consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority.

3. The State shall support such organisations of the faithful and shall promote co-operation on issues of mutual concern, on the same basis as other non-governmental organisations.

Article 15

1. The Republic of Lithuania shall recognise and guarantee the Catholic Church the right to offer pastoral care in hospitals, orphanages, other establishments for health and social care and imprisonment establishments.

2. The pastoral ministry in State and municipal establishments shall be regulated by an agreement between the competent authorities of the Catholic Church and the competent authorities of the Republic of Lithuania.

3. Members of the clergy assigned to work in the establishments referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article shall be appointed and recalled by decree of the local Ordinary.

 Article 16

1. Pursuant to the procedure prescribed by the legal acts of the Republic of Lithuania the Catholic Church may establish institutions for charitable and social work.

2. The activities and maintenance of the institutions of a charitable or social character of the Catholic Church shall be regulated in accordance with their statutes and the legal acts of the Republic of Lithuania; they shall have the same rights and duties as other institutions established for similar purposes.

3. The Catholic Church and the Republic of Lithuania shall promote co-operation between their charitable and social institutions.

4. Pursuant to the-procedure prescribed by legal acts, the Republic of Lithuania shall render ,appropriate material assistance to the institutions of a charitable and social character of the Catholic Church which promote public welfare.

Article 17

A Mixed Commission comprised of representatives of both Parties shall be set up for the implementation of the provisions of the present Agreement.

Article 18

Should any divergences arise in the future concerning the interpretation or implementation of this Agreement, the Parties will proceed by common accord to an amicable solution.

Article 19

This Agreement shall enter into force from the moment of reciprocal notification of the fulfilment by the Parties of the procedures necessary for its entrance into force.

Done in Vilnius on 5 May 2000 in two copies in English and Lithuanian, both texts being of equal force.

For the Holy See   For the Republic of Lithuania
ERWIN JOSEF ENDER ALGIRDAS SAUDARGAS

 


*A.A.S., vol. XCII (2000), n. 11, pp. 795-802

 

Copyright 2000- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

 

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