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Aspects juridiques spécifiques

Education : The Constitution of the Portuguese Republic (Article 43/3) states that public education cannot be denominational. Nevertheless, the State guarantees the freedom to teach any religion, provided that it is practised within the framework of an individual’s faith (Article 41/1). The State pays a salary to teachers of moral and religious education in public schools, up to secondary education. There are three churches and religious communities that benefit from this financial support : the Catholic Church, the Evangelical Alliance and the Baha’i community. Teachers of evangelical morality, unlike their Catholic counterparts, are not considered public sector employees and therefore have a less secure employment status (they are paid by the hour). There is no funding for denominational institutions of higher education. However, according to Decree 307/71, revised by Decree 128/90, the Catholic University of Portugal (UCP) can be supported directly by the State through financial compensation. This support is due to the fact that the UCP is not a private university, as it has the legal status of a legal entity of public utility.

Social Assistance : Social solidarity institutions, including religious organisations, may be funded for their services to disadvantaged populations. In this respect, we must mention IPSSs (Private Institutions of Social Solidarity) which, according to Decree No. 75/92, are entitled to public compensation in the pursuit of their social solidarity objectives. For this reason, agreements and protocols are established between these legal entities of public utility and the State (Article 8 of Decree 119-83 and Article 31/3 of Law 4/2007). In Portugal, for various historical, political and cultural reasons, the Catholic Church directly or indirectly owns about 30% of all IPSSs.

Chaplaincies : the State subsidises churches and religious communities for services conducted by ministers of religion in military settings (Decree 251/2009), hospitals (Decree 253/2009) and prisons (Decree 252/2009). This spiritual support is provided for by Article 17 of the Concordat and by Article 13 of the RFA (Religious Freedom Act). In the exercise of their functions, chaplains are considered as civil servants (military chaplains are part of the armed forces) (in the three above-mentioned decrees, see Article 15) and are paid by the State. Military chaplaincies currently have a structure for Catholic spiritual assistance. Evangelical chaplains work on a voluntary basis. Hospital chaplaincies do not have permanent chaplains, but it is possible to request spiritual assistance, even in the case of minority religious denominations, whenever necessary.

Religious buildings : The State sometimes subsidises church initiatives with a particular social purpose. This includes granting land, provided for in urban plans, for the construction of new churches or temples and financial support for their construction. This was the case for the central (Sunni) mosque in Lisbon (between 1978 and 2004), the Hindu temple in Lisbon (1980s), the construction of a Koranic school and mosque in Loures (1999) and the Church of the Holy Trinity in Oeiras (2015).

Mass Media and Communication : Public funding for broadcasting religious programmes on public television and radio services is provided in Portugal for all registered churches and religious communities, in pursuit of their religious objectives (Article 25/1 of the RFA). Notwithstanding the universality of this norm, according to Article 25/2, the allocation and distribution of broadcasting time must be in proportion to the representativeness of religious denominations. For this reason, the Church has a certain predominance in this area. For example, it broadcasts the television programmes “70x7” and “A Fé Dos Homens [People’s Faith]” in addition to the Sunday Eucharist.

The Missionary Agreement : The 1940 Missionary Agreement has never been formally repealed. The Portuguese State is therefore still responsible for the subsistence pensions of Portuguese missionaries in former overseas colonies.

D 19 décembre 2017    AHelena Vilaça AJorge Botelho Moniz

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