Vatican City, 21 June 2012 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today:
"This morning 21 June 2012 the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Filip Vujanovic, president of Montenegro. The president subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. who was accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.
"The principal reason for the visit was to exchange the instruments of ratification of the Basic Agreement between the Holy See and Montenegro, something the cardinal secretary of State and the president of Montenegro duly did at the end of their meeting. With that exchange the Agreement comes into force, pursuant to article 21.
"The Agreement was signed in 2011 and is the result of the excellent relations between the Holy See and Montenegro, which have been established ever since the country gained its independence. The document recognises the juridical status of the Catholic Church and her principal institutions in civil society, her liberty and independence in apostolic activity and in regulating matters that specifically concern the Church, as well as freedom of worship, and freedom of action in the fields of culture, education, pastoral care and charity.
"During the cordial discussions it was noted that the Agreement represents a positive development in the consolidation of the rule of law and democratic principles, upon which Montenegro wishes to base its future. Moreover, a fruitful exchange of opinions took place on current international issues and the regional situation. with particular appreciation being expressed for the way in which the Holy See is following Montenegro's journey towards full European integration. Finally the parties stated their desire to keep the spirit of collaboration alive through constructive dialogue on areas of mutual interest for the Church and State".