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Le modèle letton

The state church relationship in the Republic of Latvia is based on the following principles : separation, religious freedom, "traditionality", respect of neutrality and delegation of particular powers.
The 8th chapter of the Satversme (Constitution) has incorporated the main principles of fundamental rights. Two articles are related particularly to the liberty of conscience. Article 99 of the Satversme states : "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The church shall be separate from the State". Article 114 of the Satversme states : " Persons belonging to ethnic minorities have the right to preserve and develop their language and their ethnic and cultural identity." It all indicates that every person, including minorities, in Latvia has equal rights to the free choice of religion. It is also declared in article 2 of the Law of Religious Organizations, which states : "The state does not grant any privileges to any religion or confession."
In Latvia there is no state religion, and state and the church are separate. According to the Latvian Civil Code (1937), the Latvian State has delegated the right to register marriages to eight denominations. These denominations are Ev. Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Old Believer, Methodist, Baptist, Seventh Day Adventist churches and the Jewish religious community. All these denominations in Latvia are so called "traditional Churches", which allows :

1. Agreements with State and these churches (2004). Each of these agreements has a preamble recognizing the special role of the Church in the existence of the legal system of the country and system of values of the society, as well as its significant contribution to the morale and process of socialization of the society.
2. Special Laws considering the long-standing existence and spread of the Church as a traditional religious organisation in the territory of Latvia and recognizing "its contribution to and rich experience in the areas of society’s physical and mental health, education, culture, social support and other areas."

For the Catholic Church, Church-State relations are governed by the Agreement of Cooperation between the State and the Latvian traditional religious denominations, and special Laws by agreement concluded with the Holy See in 2000 on this basis.
The Latvian model emerged in the 2000’s after the Latvian State concluded an agreement with Holy See ; it contains 7 agreements of cooperation with Latvian traditional religious denominations as well as specific laws for some traditional Churches. In comparison with other European countries, the Latvian system seems to show the greatest similarities with the Italian-Spanish pattern, but of course some elements should be noticed also from other East European countries such as Hungary or Poland.

D 27 septembre 2012    ARingolds Balodis

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