Catholic Bishops of Cape Verde on their ad limina visit

2014-09-10 Vatican Radio

The Bishops of Cape Verde have today 8 September started their ad limina visit.  During the ad limina visit, the Bishops will have an opportunity to share with Pope Francis the situation of the Church in Cape Verde.

Cape Verde is an archipelago consisting of 10 islands, nine of which are inhabited. It has an area of 4 014 square Kilometers and has a population of 566.000. The country has had a long history of emigration and there are about 1.5 million Cape Verdeans living abroad, mainly in the United States, Europe and other parts of Africa.

More than 90 percent of the population is nominally Catholic, according to an informal poll taken by local churches in the year 2007. The largest Protestant denomination is the Church of the Nazarene although in recent years there has been phenomenal growth among Evangelical Pentecostals. There is a small but growing Moslem population.

At the time of independence, from Portugal in 1974, Cape Verde’s Catholics were viewed with great suspicion by the new socialist Government. They were perceived as being too closely linked to the departing Portuguese colonial Government. As a result, the Church was marginalised and discriminated against.

The signing of a concordat between the Holy See and the Government of Cape Verde, in the capital of Praia in 2011, formalised relations between the Catholic Church and the state. The agreement regulates, among other things, the legal status of the Catholic Church in the country; allows for Catholic teaching in schools and recognises the role of the Church in matrimonial matters.    

Notwithstanding that Catholicism continues to be the majority religion in Cape Verde, the Church faces growing secularisation as a major challenge to Evangelization.

Cape Verde has two dioceses namely, Mindelo and Santiago de Cabo Verde. Both dioceses are immediately subject to the Holy See and are members of the Bishops’ Conference of Senegal, Mauritania, Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau (Conférence des Evêques du Sénégal, de la Mauritanie, du Cap-Vert et de Guinée-Bissau) .

In an earlier interview that the Bishop of Santiago di Capo Verde, Right Rev. Arlindo Gomes Furtado gave to the agency, APIC in Fribourg Switzerland,  the Bishop spoke about the Catholic Church’s commitment to issues of social development in Cape Verde.

Cape Verde is in the Sahel zone and is often prone to problems of drought. The work of Caritas carried out in co-operation with "Caritas Internationalis" has been significant in Cape Verde. The Church is also in the fore-front of training locals in irrigation techniques, provision of micro-loans, financial support to buy fodder and also in the area of construction of dams to retain water.

For many years, Italian Capuchins were very involved in the work of Evangelization and the provision of social services.Today, the community of the Capuchins in Cape Verde is made-up largely of Cape Verdeans who have studied in Portugal and Italy. 

e-mail: engafrica@vatiradio.va

(From archive of Vatican Radio)