Website accessibility
Show or hide the menu bar

Military concordat (1989) : text — unratified, but still observed Military concordat (1989) : text — unratified, but still observed

This concordat embeds Catholic chaplains (and Canon Law) in the military, gives them a central location at the military headquarters and obliges the state to support them. This military concordat is mentioned enigmatically in the 2008 concordat, perhaps a move to get the unsuspecting Congressmen to ratify it retroactively. For the military concordat has a trick clause at the end — in Latin — stating that it comes into effect immediately, in other words, with no ratification by a democratic legislature

This first concordat with Brazil is one of the very few to contain an “escape clause” at the end, allowing one of the parties to cancel it. Others are the 2003 Czech concordat which is also unratified, and the 2008 French higher education concordat. This strategy is occasionaly used in order to get a foot in the door, after which it can be quietly dropped. The second Brazilian concordat cannot be ended without Vatican permission.  

Oratory of the Soldier

Agreement between the Federal Republic of Brazil and the Holy See on pastoral care for the armed forces

The Federal Republic of Brazil
The Holy See

Desirous of promoting, in a stable and convenient manner, pastoral care for the Catholic faithful who are members of the Brazilian Armed Forces,

Agree as follows:

Article I

1. The Holy See will establish in Brazil a Military Ordinariate to give pastoral care to Catholics who are members of the Armed Forces.

2. The Military Ordinariate, canonically assimilated to the dioceses, will be led by a Military Ordinary who enjoys all the rights and is subject to all obligations of diocesan bishops.

Article II

The Military Headquarters of the Ordinary and his Curia is the Headquarters of the Armed Forces, in Brasilia, Federal District and the Brazilian Army will have provisional use of the Oratory of the Soldier.

Article III

1. The Military Ordinary will be Brazilian born, will have the rank of Archbishop and will be linked administratively to the highest military command (Estado maior das forces armadas) is appointed by the Holy See, after consultations with the Brazilian government.

2. The Military Ordinary will not be burdened with the government of another diocesan seat.

Article IV

The Military Ordinary will be assisted by a Vicar General for the Navy, the Army and the Air Force, he indicated in agreement with the individual Forces.

Article V

1. The Military Ordinary exercises ecclesiastical jurisdiction over his own staff according to canonical standards.

2. If the Military Ordinary is impeached, the diocesan bishop will take over, at the invitation of the military or after negotiation with them, the same occurs with the local parish priest, should the Catholic Chaplain be impeached.

Article VI

For the purpose of religious organization, the Military Ordinary will assist the Catholic who are:
a) members of the Military Organisations of the Armed Forces as well as employees and their relatives living under one roof;
b) men and women, whether members of a religious institute or not, who have stable functions entrusted to them by the Military Ordinary, or with their consent. 

Article VII

1. For the religious services of the Military Ordinary there will be secular [i.e. diocesan] priests or religious clergy [i.e., belonging to religious orders], who form the presbyterium, and the first may be incorporated into the Ordinariate according to the norms of Canon Law.

2. The priests stably assigned to the religious service will be called the Military Armed Forces Chaplains, and have the canonical rights and duties similar to those of parish priests.

Article VIII

The admission and access of Military Chaplains in each Force will be defined by specific legislation in Brazil, and the concession of the canonical provision is made by the Military Ordinariate. 

Article IX

The Catholic Military Chaplain, in the exercise of his military activities, will be subordinate to his hierarchical superiors, and in the exercise of his pastoral activity, will follow the guidance and requirements of the Military Ordinary, according to the norms of Canon Law.

Article X

1. Disciplinary measures of a military nature applicable to Military Chaplains are determined by relevant law, observing the peculiar condition of the offender, and will be reported to the Military Ordinary.

2. Disciplinary measures of a canonical nature will be under the jurisdiction of the Military Ordinary, who will communicate the decision to the competent military authority for the appropriate actions.

Article XI

Regarding the admission and the number of Catholic Military Chaplains, this will be in proportion determined by the legislation in force in Brazil.

Article XII

Any disputes relating to the service or pastoral duties of Military Chaplains to Catholics, should be resolved by agreement between the Military Ministry and the Military Ordinary.

Article XIII

The tasks of the highest military command (Estado maior das forces armadas), should provide material resources, budget and staff necessary for the functioning of the Curia of the Military Ordinary, but not beyond their limitations.

Article XIV

In the event of doubt about the interpretation or application of the terms of this Agreement, the High Contracting Parties shall seek a solution by mutual understanding.

Article XV

The current Military Archbishop will be confirmed by the Brazilian government as Military Ordinary.

Article XVI

This Agreement shall enter into force on the date of its signing and may be terminated by either High Contracting Parties, through diplomatic channels, a year in advance.

Concluded in Brasilia, on the 23rd day of October 1989 in two texts in Portuguese.

The Federal Republic of Brazil :
Paulo Tarso Flecha de Lima 

The Holy See:
Carlos Furno

Conventio inter Apostolicam Sedem et Brasiliensem Rempublicam Foederatam, icta die 3 mensis Octobris anno 1989, hoc eodem die eodemque anno vigere coepit.

[In Latin: "Agreement between the Holy See and the Federal Republic of Brazil made on the 3rd day of October of the year 1989, begins to come into force on the same day of the same year."]


Acordo entre a Santa Sé e a República Federativa do Brasil sobre Assistência Religiosa às Forças Armadas, de 23 de outubro de 1989.

Translated by Daniel Sottomaior

Go to Notanant menuWebsite accessibility

Access level: public

This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site you agree to our use of cookies: OK