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 must apply to the government to build a public place of worship and to receive recognition, which provides certain legal rights and privileges. Optional Catholic religious instruction is available in public schools. The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ 2019 case before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for recognition as a religious group remained pending at year’s end. In July, the ECHR formally notified the government of the case. Without recognition, the government and Jehovah’s Witnesses both stated that the group could not open a place of worship in the country.
The only private religious schools are Catholic. According to the government, while the law permits private, non-Catholic religious schools, there was insufficient demand for them. Muslim, Protestant, and Jewish representatives again said there was no need for them to open a religious school. A member of the Muslim community stated the community did not want to be officially recognized because most members did not practice their religion and it would be too expensive to build a place of worship.
In November, the U.S. Consul General in Marseille, who is accredited to the government of Monaco, discussed the state of religious freedom in the country with a representative from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In September, representatives from the Consulate General in Marseille discussed issues pertaining to religious freedom with leaders of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Catholic and Protestant Churches. Consulate general officials spoke several times with representatives from the Jehovah’s Witnesses to discuss religious concerns, including the government’s refusal to recognize the Jehovah’s Witnesses. In November, consulate general representatives met with Jewish and Muslim religious communities to discuss religious freedom and diversity in the country.