Making good on a promise he had made a month before during an official audience at his residence, the President of the Republic of Portugal Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa visited Central Lisbon Seventh-day Adventist Church on Saturday, March 3, 2018. Just before the special Sabbath morning service at the church, de Sousa addressed church leaders and members, highlighting the cordial and longstanding relationship between the state he presides over and Seventh-day Adventists.
“The friendship between the Portuguese state and the Seventh-day Adventist Church has an old history and an illustrious lineage”
“The friendship between the Portuguese state and the Seventh-day Adventist Church has an old history and an illustrious lineage,” he said. “I thank this Church for its contribution to justice building, and social solidarity towards a more human, fraternal, and united Portugal.”
Seventh-day Adventists have been in Portugal since 1904 when the first missionaries arrived. Church memberscurrently worship in 116 churches and companies, with 9,300 baptized members and a community of approximately 12,000 people. As part of its social action, Adventists operate five schools, and four homes and day centers, church leaders in the country reminded.
In his March 3 address, de Sousa referred to the Portuguese legal and constitutional framework that regulates religious freedom. He pointed out that Portuguese society “is open to religious pluralism,” with “instruments that guarantee a fair treatment” of the various churches and creeds.
The president explained that while Portugal does not officially support any religious denomination, the State takes a positive stance towards faiths that work for making people and society better.
“Public authorities do not adopt any religion, but the State assumes its duty of collaboration with various faiths and religious communities based in Portugal,” he said. “It is something that includes their role in promoting the rights of the people, the integral development of each person, and the values of peace, freedom, solidarity, and tolerance.”
De Sousa added that as the country’s president, he has adopted a principle of proximity not only to people but also to religious communities, and to those who have no belief or faith.
“I am also planning to attend the commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the Islamic community in Portugal, and to visit the Lutheran community,” he said.
During the service at the Central Lisbon Adventist Church, Antonio Lopes Amorim, president of Seventh-day Adventists in Portugal, presented de Sousa with a 200-year old Bible, as he thanked him for his visit.
Before the end of his visit, de Sousa stressed that he values Adventist efforts to put Christian principles into practice.
“The values and principles proclaimed by…Christianity include human dignity and the solidarity shown in caring actions.” In that sense, “allow me to give you a big ‘thank you!’ from all the Portuguese,” he said.