On August 23 in the capital Porto-Novo, the Beninese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aurélien Agbénonci, and the Apostolic Nuncio in Benin, Bishop Brian Udaigwe, exchanged the “instruments of ratification for the framework agreement” signed on October 21, 2016, thus bringing it into effect.
The agreement that just came into effect recognizes “the legal personality of the Catholic Church and her institutions” for the first time, while “safeguarding their independence and autonomy and engaging their collaboration,” explains the statement from the Holy See Press Office published on August 24, 2018.
This recognition opens the door to conventions, agreements and authorizations in several domains. It will make it easier for the clergy to enter into prisons and military camps and authorizes the creation of chaplaincies in hospitals. In this country, Catholics represent 25.5% of the population, and Muslims 23.8%.
The Holy See and Benin have had diplomatic relations since 1971. They led to the inauguration of a nunciature in 2002, the creation of a Beninese embassy to the Holy See in 2012, and three papal visits in 1982, 1993, and 2011.