Concordat of 1940

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The Concordat of 1940 was an agreement between Portugal and the Holy See of the Catholic Church. The concordat was signed in Vatican City on 7 May 1940. Because it was concluded with the government of the Portuguese Second Republic, a dictatorship under António de Oliveira Salazar, its ratification, as shown by the concordat's last article, was a foregone conclusion.

Salazar’s regime had overthrown the democratic First Republic, which on 20 April 1911 had enacted the Law of Separation of the Catholic Church from the Portuguese state. Salazar, however, restored much of the power of the Church,[citation needed] which was reflected in the concordat. It gives the Church exclusive control over religious instruction in the public schools. Only Catholic clergy could serve as chaplains in the armed forces. Divorce, which had been legalized by the First Republic, was again made illegal for those married in a Catholic church. The Church was given formal “juridical personality,” enabling it to incorporate and hold property, and it was permitted to operate in accordance with its own canon law. For its part, the state retains, in Article 10, the right to a political veto of prospective bishops. Regal control over ecclesiastical appointments was part of the "Padroado Real", that is, the exclusive royal prerogative granted by the Pope to the Portuguese crown to evangelize in the Far East and elsewhere.” [1] Thus the veto right in this concordat is a nod to the privilege of Iberian kings and served to legitimize Salazar's regime.

On immediate result of the concordat was that on June 13, 1940, Pope Pius XII issued the encyclical Saeculo Exeunte Octavo, which appealed to Portuguese national feelings.[2]

Although Salazar died in 1968, the Second Republic continued until 1974. Thus the canon law marriage prescribed by Article 24 outlived him and it continued to prevent Catholics from obtaining a civil divorce until 1975 when a Protocol to the Concordat (implemented the next year) finally allowed it.[3]

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