Church gains legal recognitions as pope, Lula hold talks

Vatican City - School certificates from Catholic schools and church weddings officiated by priests will receive legal recognition in Brazil under an accord reached Thursday between Brazil and the Vatican. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Foreign Minister Celso Amorin inked the accord for Brazil in a Vatican City signing ceremony. Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone and the Holy See's "foreign minister" Dominique Mamberti signed the agreement for their side.

Before the ceremony, Pope Benedict XVI and Lula held 24 minutes of closed-door talks in Benedict's private study with an interpreter present.

The talks focused on "certain aspects of the situation in Brazil, and in particular to social policies that seek to improve the living conditions of the many people who live in circumstances of distress and marginalisation," the Vatican said in a statement.

Efforts by Brazil to assist development in Africa were also discussed, as was Benedict's 2007 visit to Brazil, it added.

Afterward, the pontiff greeted Lula's wife Marisia Leticia and accepted several painted ceramic tiles as a gift from the Brazilian president. For his part, the pontiff presented Lula with a pen bearing an insignia of his pontificate.