The constitution provides for freedom of religion and belief. A concordat with the Holy See designates Catholicism as the official state religion and extends to the Catholic Church special privileges not granted to other religious groups. Non-Catholic religious groups may register as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) with the Attorney General’s Office and the Ministry of Finance for tax purposes. Non-Catholic groups continued to state they received less government funding than Catholic groups, such as for administrative expenses and construction. In June the Catholic Church transferred 127 parochial schools to the Ministry of Education, which agreed to finance them while allowing the schools to continue to provide instruction in Catholicism. In October the Ministry of Education agreed to assume financial responsibility for 134 private evangelical Protestant schools, allowing those schools to continue to offer evangelical Protestant religious instruction. Some religious groups said they continued to have difficulty acquiring customs duty exemptions or waivers from the Ministry of Finance. Non-Catholic missionaries and religious leaders said they still could not obtain visas under the same immigration category as Catholic religious leaders, which non-Catholic groups said made it more expensive and difficult to bring missionaries to the country. At the opening of the Caribbean Symposium on Religious Liberty in November, Vice President Margarita Cedeno stressed the centrality of legal systems to recognize and guarantee religious freedom.
In November the Pontifical University in Santo Domingo cohosted with the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation, Religions for Peace, and Brigham Young University the Caribbean Symposium on Religious Liberty. Participants emphasized the connection between religious freedom and sustainable development and the positive role that business leaders play in advancing interfaith understanding.
U.S. embassy officials maintained ties with religious representatives and faith groups, meeting with leaders from the Catholic Church; the United Dominican Council for Evangelicals, representing the Protestant community; the Jewish community; and the Muslim community to discuss religious freedom and tolerance. Issues discussed included the concordat, government financial support of churches, customs duties, and the freedom to proselytize.