The constitution guarantees freedom of religion and its public expression and prohibits compelling participation in religious ceremonies. Roman Catholicism is the state religion and state ceremonies often include Catholic rituals. Religious groups have to apply to the government to build a public place of worship and to receive recognition, which provides certain legal rights and privileges. In July the Supreme Court annulled the government’s decision not to recognize the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Optional Catholic religious instruction is available in public schools.
The only private religious schools were Catholic. According to the government, there was insufficient demand for non-Catholic private religious schools.
The U.S. Consulate General in Marseille queried the government about religious freedom and received a written response stating all religious groups had “total freedom of worship.” In September and December a representative from the U.S. Consulate General in Marseille discussed religious freedom issues with Protestant, Muslim, and Jewish representatives.