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Department Seal 2000 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom:

Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
U.S. Department of State, September 5, 2000


The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice.

There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom during the period covered by this report.

Both government policy and the generally amicable relationship among religions in society contribute to the free practice of religion.

The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government in the context of its overall dialog and policy of promoting human rights.

Section I. Government Policies on Freedom of Religion

Legal/Policy Framework

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government respects this right in practice.

The Constitution acknowledges a special relationship with the Roman Catholic Church "in accordance with Andorran tradition" and recognizes the "full legal capacity" of the bodies of the Catholic Church, granting them legal status "in accordance with their own rules." One of the two constitutionally-designated princes of the country (who serves equally as joint head of state with the President of France) is Bishop Joan Marti Alanis of the Spanish town of La Seu d'Urgell.

The Catholic Church receives no direct subsidies from the Government. However, the Government continues to pay monthly stipends to each of the seven parishes (administrative units of government, though the term was originally religiously determined) for the continuance of their historic work in maintaining vital records, such as birth and marriage, despite having a fully legal civil registry system in the country.

There is currently no law that clearly requires legal registration and approval of religions and religious worship. However, the Government is considering completing a draft law on associations that may ultimately govern some aspects of religious activity. Although the terms of the draft law are not publicly known, the authorities reportedly are considering how to treat the activity of so-called "sects" or other groups whose activities may be considered injurious to public health, safety, morals, or order. Under a 1993 law, associations must be registered. This register has documented civic associations, but to date no religious organization, including the Roman Catholic Church, has requested registration or been asked by the Government to register.

Religious Demography

Very few official statistics are available relative to religion; however, traditionally approximately 90 percent of the population are Roman Catholic. The population consists largely of immigrants, with full citizens representing less than 20 percent of the total. Immigrants, primarily from Spain, Portugal, and France, compose the bulk of the population and are also largely Roman Catholic. It is estimated that, of the Catholic population, about half are active church attendees. Other religions include Islam (predominately represented among the roughly 2,000 North African immigrants); the New Apostolic Church; the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; several Protestant denominations, including the Anglican Church; the Reunification Church; and Jehovah's Witnesses.

Instruction in the tenets of the Catholic faith is available in public schools on an optional basis, outside of both regular school hours and the time frame set aside for elective school activities, such as civics or ethics. The Catholic Church provides teachers for religion classes, and the Government pays their salaries. Some parental groups and Co-Prince Bishop Marti reportedly prefer restoring the optional religion classes to the time frame set aside for elective activities.

Foreign missionaries are active and operate without restriction. For example, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and Jehovah's Witnesses proselytize door to door.

The Government has not taken any official steps to promote interfaith understanding, nor has it sponsored any programs or forums to coordinate interfaith dialog. On occasion the Government has made public facilities available to various religious organizations for religious activities.

There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom during the period covered by this report.

There were no reports of religious detainees or prisoners.

Forced Religious Conversion of Minor U.S. Citizens

There were no reports of the forced religious conversion of minor U.S. citizens who had been abducted or illegally removed from the United States, or of the Government's refusal to allow such persons to be returned to the United States.

Section II. Societal Attitudes

Societal attitudes between and among differing religious groups in general appear to be amicable and tolerant. The Catholic Church of la Massana, for example, lends its sanctuary twice per month to the Anglican community, so that visiting Anglican clergy can conduct services for the English speaking community. Although those who practice religions other than Roman Catholicism tend to be immigrants and otherwise not integrated fully into the local community, there appears to be little or no obstacle to their practicing their own religions.

There are no significant ecumenical movements or activities to promote greater mutual understanding among adherents of different religions.

Section III. U.S. Government Policy

U.S. officials discuss religious freedom issues with the Government in the overall context of the promotion of human rights. Both the U.S. Ambassador, resident in Madrid, and the Consul General, resident in Barcelona, have met with Bishop Marti, the leader of the Catholic community. The Consul General met with the Minister of Education to discuss the issue of religious instruction in public schools in March 2000.

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