There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom during the period covered by this report, and government policy continued to contribute to the generally free practice of religion.
The generally amicable relationship among religions in society contributed to religious freedom.
The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government in the context of its overall dialog and policy of promoting human rights.
Section I. Religious Demography
The country has an area of 180.7 square miles, and a population of approximately 67,000. Very few official statistics are available relative to religion; however, traditionally approximately 90 percent of the population are Roman Catholic. The population consists largely of immigrants, with full citizens representing less than 37 percent of the total. The immigrants, who primarily are from Spain, Portugal, and France, also largely are Roman Catholic. It is estimated that, of the Catholic population, about half are active church attendees. Other religious groups include Muslims (who predominantly are represented among the approximately 2,000 North African immigrants and are split between two groups, one more fundamentalist); the New Apostolic Church; the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons); several Protestant denominations, including the Anglican Church; the Reunification Church; and Jehovah's Witnesses.
Foreign missionaries are active and operate without restriction. For example, the Mormons and members of Jehovah's Witnesses proselytize from door to door.
Section II. Status of Religious Freedom
The Constitution acknowledges a special relationship with the Roman Catholic Church "in accordance with Andorran tradition" and recognizes the "full legal capacity" of the bodies of the Catholic Church, granting them legal status "in accordance with their own rules." One of the two constitutionally designated princes of the country (who serves equally as joint head of state with the President of France) is Bishop Joan Vives Sicilia of the Spanish town of La Seu d'Urgell. The Catholic religious celebration on September 8 of the "Virgen de Merixtall" is also a national holiday.
There is no law that clearly requires legal registration and approval of religions and religious worship. In 2001 the Government passed a law of associations, which is very general and does not mention specifically religious affairs. Prior to the 2001 law, each Ministry had its own registry for associations. In August 2001, the Government opened a new, consolidated register of associations to replace the existing separate registries. The registry records all types of associations, including religious groups. Registration is not compulsory; however, groups must register or reregister in order to be considered for the support that the Government provides to nongovernmental organizations. In order to register or reregister, groups must provide the association statutes, the foundation agreement, a statement certifying the names of persons appointed to official or board positions in the organization, and a patrimony declaration that identifies the inheritance or endowment of the organization.
The authorities reportedly had expressed some concern regarding what treatment groups whose actions may be considered injurious to public health, safety, morals, or order should receive. The law does not limit any such groups, although it does contain a provision that no one may be "forced to join or remain in an association against his/her will."
In early 2003, the Muslim community requested that the Government provide a building to convert into a mosque. Authorities responded that the buildings identified by the Muslim community were either unavailable or not subject to government disposition. The Muslim community has also approached the Catholic Bishop asking that a former church, no longer utilized as such, be converted into a mosque. According to press reports, Catholic religious authorities are not supportive of the request. There were no reports of religious prisoners or detainees.
Instruction in the tenets of the Catholic faith is available in public schools on an optional basis, outside of both regular school hours and the time frame set aside for elective school activities, such as civics or ethics. The Catholic Church provides teachers for religion classes, and the Government pays their salaries. The Cultural Islamic Center provides 43 students with Arabic lessons. The Government and the Moroccan community continue to discuss plans that would allow children to receive Arabic classes in school outside of the regular school day.
The Government has not taken any official steps to promote interfaith understanding, nor has it sponsored any programs or forums to coordinate interfaith dialog. However, it has been responsive to certain needs of the Muslim community. On occasion the Government has made public facilities available to various religious organizations for religious activities.
Restrictions on Religious Freedom
Government policy and practice contributed to the generally free practice of religion.
Forced Religious Conversion
There were no reports of forced religious conversion, including of minor U.S. citizens who had been abducted or illegally removed from the United States, or of the refusal to allow such persons to be returned to the United States.
Section III. Societal Attitudes
Societal attitudes between and among differing religious groups in general appear to be amicable and tolerant. For example, the Catholic Church of la Massana lends its sanctuary twice per month to the Anglican community, so that visiting Anglican clergy can conduct services for the English-speaking community. Although those who practice religions other than Roman Catholicism tend to be immigrants and otherwise not integrated fully into the local community, there appears to be little or no obstacle to their practicing their own religions.
There are no significant ecumenical movements or activities to promote greater mutual understanding among adherents of different religions.
An opinion poll published by the Institute of Andorran Studies on the "the values and traditions of the Andorran Society" indicates that 52 percent of citizens see themselves as "very religious people."
Section IV. U.S. Government Policy
U.S. officials discuss religious freedom issues with the Government in the context of its overall dialog and policy of promoting human rights. Both the U.S. Ambassador, resident in Madrid, and the Consul General, resident in Barcelona, have met with Bishop Vives, the leader of the Catholic community.