Last week Vatican officials met with representatives of the Republic of Burundi to discuss an agreement made between the countries in 2012, officially implementing the agreement's stipulations. Held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Burundi on Feb. 28, the country's minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Laurent Kavakure, was present along with their apostolic nuncio Archbishop Franco Coppola. During the meeting, the two exchanged various instruments of ratification for the agreement made between the Holy See and Burundi regarding matters of common interest, which was signed in Bujumbura on Nov. 6, 2012. The framework agreement, reports Vatican Radio, recognizes the positive relations fostered between Burundi and the Holy See in the past 50 years. It also both 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 instruction, the welfare and charitable activities of the Church, pastoral care of the armed forces and of penitential and hospital environments, as well as property and tax laws. Consisting of a preamble of 22 articles with an appendix, the agreement entered into effect the day of the meeting, upon the exchanging of the various instruments of ratification. Attending on behalf of the Holy See was Bishop Gervais Banshimiyubusa of Ngozi, president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Burundi, as well as the conference's deputy president, Archbishop Evariste Ngoyagoye of Bujumbura. Others present from the Vatican were Bishop Joaquim Ntahondereye of Muyinga, Bishop Bonaventure Nahimana of Rutana, Bishop-elect Georges Bizimana, coadjutor of Bubanza, Rev. Jose Nahum Jairo Salas Castaneda of the apostolic nunciature in Burundi, and Rev. A. Lambert Niciteretse, who is the secretary general of the Burundi Bishops Conference. Representing the Republic of Burundi was chief of protocol at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Emile Butoyi, and Ambassador Egyde Ndikuriyo, who is the director general for Europe, America and non-governmental organizations. Also attending from Burundi were Ambassador Antoine Ntahobwa, director for America, Ambassador Ernest Ndabashintze, advisor to the minister of Foreign Affairs, and Emerence Nahonkuriye, who is assistant to the minister of Foreign Affairs.
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