The constitution and other laws and policies generally protect religious freedom. The constitution provides for freedom of religion, provided that “Christian morality and public order” are respected.
Catholicism has certain state-sanctioned advantages over other faiths. The constitution recognizes Catholicism as “the religion of the majority” of citizens but does not designate it as the official state religion.
The constitution limits the public offices religious leaders may hold to those related to social assistance, education, and scientific research.
The constitution forbids the formation of political parties based on religion. It grants religious associations legal status so they may manage and administer their property within the limits prescribed by law, the same status granted other “juridical persons.” The Ministry of Government grants “juridical personality” through a relatively simple and transparent process. Juridical personality allows a religious group to apply for all tax benefits available to nonprofit organizations.
Under immigration law, most foreign religious workers are granted temporary missionary worker visas that must be renewed every two years for up to six years total. Catholic priests and nuns and Jewish rabbis are eligible for a special, automatic six-year visa.
The constitution requires teaching of Catholicism in public schools; however, parents have the right to exempt their children from religious instruction.