Foreign Minister Rómulo Roux said today that Panama will make the first payment of a loan to the Vatican for the construction of a headquarters for the Holy See in the next 30 days.
Panama has already donated land in Clayton for the construction of the new diplomatic headquarters of the church.
In addition to the land, the Panama government has agreed to loan the Vatican the nearly $9 million it will cost to build the headquarters.
Roux said that Panama will make the first payment, of $4 million, within the next 30 days, while the rest of the amount will be paid in 2013.
The church is moving its headquarters from Paitilla to Clayton for security reasons.
Roux denied that the deal represents a gift to the Vatican, saying it is simply an economic transaction between the two states.
Panama granted the land to the Vatican for the existing Holy See under a concession. It will now get that land back.
Aníbal Culiolis, vice president of the Partido Popular, said that Panama is giving a gift to the vatican becaue it already owns the land it is getting back.
Culiolis said that this type of transaction makes the Catholic Church lose credibility on positions it takes in regard to the government.
Pablo Morales, of the Ecumenical Committee, said that "all religions would like to receive the same deal" that was given to the Vatican.