The constitution recognizes Roman Catholicism as the state religion; the state is required by law to contribute to its maintenance. The constitution prohibits the state from impeding the free exercise of religions that does not impugn “universal morality or proper behavior” and provides for redress in cases of alleged violations of religious freedom. Efforts by secular groups to remove Catholicism as the state religion and define the country as an explicitly secular state lost momentum, according to an evangelical Protestant leader, although some civil society leaders continued to state that the constitution did not sufficiently address the specific concerns of non-Catholic religious groups. The Constitutional Chamber received four claims against the free exercise of religious freedom at educational institutions. The Constitutional Chamber dismissed two of them, stating there was insufficient evidence. In the other two cases, the chamber ruled in favor of each student: one who requested rescheduling of an exam planned for a Saturday for his observation of the Sabbath, and the other who argued that a school rule violated his constitutional rights by prohibiting him from wearing a kippah skullcap.
Instances of anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic language on social media continued. For example, an article posted on Facebook reporting on the Catholic Church’s position on abortion received several comments with vitriolic language and slurs against the Catholic clergy. A legislative advisor of one of the Christian parties in the National Assembly also reported that he saw frequent insults and derogatory language aimed at Catholic and other Christian groups in response to arguments on social media regarding same-sex marriage and abortion. The Jewish community reported instances of anti-Semitic comments on social media.
Embassy officials met with Christian legislators and discussed issues of free expression of religious beliefs as well as same-sex marriage and abortion issues of concern to religious groups. Embassy representatives met with religious leaders throughout the year, including those representing religious minorities, to discuss their views on religious freedom. The outreach to religious groups included meetings with officials from the Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, and other Christian communities in the country. At the embassy’s July 4th event, the Ambassador delivered remarks emphasizing the importance of valuing diversity, including religious diversity. The embassy used social media to send congratulatory messages to religious groups on special religious occasions. A senior U.S. embassy official spoke at the concert of an embassy-sponsored Klezmer band from the U.S., emphasizing the importance of religious diversity and tolerance.