The constitution provides for freedom of conscience and religious worship, subject to restrictions in the interest of public safety, order, morality, health, or protection of the rights and freedoms of others. It prohibits discriminatory treatment based on creed. The constitution establishes Roman Catholicism as the state religion.
The law allows criticism of religious groups, but the criminal code prohibits incitement of religious hatred, with violators subject to imprisonment of six to 18 months. It also prohibits the disturbance of “any function, ceremony, or religious service of any religion tolerated by law” carried out by a minister of religion, both in places of worship and in areas accessible to the public. The penalty for violators is up to six months in prison or more if the disturbance results in “serious danger.” If the disturbance involves any act amounting to a threat or violence against a person, punishment is imprisonment for a period of six months to two years.
The criminal code prohibits individuals from wearing masks or disguises in public, unless explicitly allowed by law, such as in a medical context. There is no specific reference to – or exception for – coverings worn for religious reasons. Violators are subject to a reprimand, a fine of €23 to €1,165 ($25 – 1,200), or a jail sentence of up to two months. In practice, the government did not enforce the ban.
Cremation is legal and the law makes provisions for licensing, conditions for cremation, and the creation of a national cremation register listing the entities licensed to perform cremations.
The government does not require religious groups to be registered. Religious groups may own property, including buildings. Groups using property for a particular purpose, including religious worship, must obtain a permit for that purpose from the Planning Authority. All religious groups may organize and run private religious schools, and their clergy may perform legally recognized marriages and other religious functions.
The constitution states the Catholic Church has “the duty and the right to teach which principles are right and which are wrong.” The constitution and law make Catholic education compulsory in public schools. The state, rather than the Catholic Church, provides teachers (who may be non-Catholic) for the courses. Students, with parental consent if the student is younger than age 16, may opt out of these classes and instead take an ethics course, if one is available. If a school does not offer an ethics course, students may still opt out of the religion class.
Students may enroll in private religious schools. The law does not regulate religious education in private schools. The law allows homeschooling, but instructors must have a teaching certificate.
The country is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
On January 27, to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Speaker of the House of Representatives led a public event at the parliament building in honor of the Holocaust victims. Officials from both major political parties participated in the event, together with members of the Jewish community in the country.
According to the Ministry for Education and Employment, the number of public schools offering ethics as an alternative to religion classes and the number of students in both public and other schools remained similar to those of 2021. All students in training to become primary school instructors continued to receive training in the teaching of ethics.
The government did not introduce voluntary Islamic religious education as an after-school program in state primary or secondary schools despite statements in previous years that it was considering doing so. The status of the government’s plans remained unclear. According to Muslim community leaders, they have a good working relationship with the government, and a policy priority of the Muslim community is for the government to introduce Islamic education in public schools.