Reported by Alex Biggs
Scott E. Isaacson, Regional Advisor for Latin American, International Center for Law and Religion Studies moderated this session. Presenters and panelists included Silvia Sánchez, Member of Congress, Legislative Assembly; Fabricio Alvarado, Member of Congress, Legislative Assembly; Mónica Catalán, Daisy Guerrero and César Zuñiga, advisors to the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica.
The first presenter was Silvia Sanchez, a member of Congress, currently presiding over the Commission for the bill of Law on Religious Freedom. She discussed Article 75 of the Costa Rican Constitution, which establishes the Roman Catholic Church as the official state religion, while at the same time guaranteeing the free exercise of other religions that are not against the moral norms. She explained that the Catholic Church receives special treatment for being a state religion. Ms. Sanchez also explained her work on the advancement of the Law on Religious Freedom. She is currently working with various religious organizations and different levels of government in regards to the law. She is asking them for their feedback to try to make this law as comprehensive as possible.
Fabricio Alvarado, a member of Congress, spoke next. He is the main promoter of the Law on Religious Freedom, also known as bill number 19,099. He explained that in the 20th Century there has been a steady growth of religions that are not Catholic in Costa Rica. The purpose of the bill that Congressman Alvarado is promoting is to ensure that each of these religions is able to continue growing and expressing its faith. Congressman Alvarado also went over Article 75 of the Costa Rican Constitution and explained that Costa Rica has a system of religious tolerance, not of religious liberty.
After Congressman Alvarado finished, there was a question and answer session in which Daisy Guerrero, Monica Catalan, and Cesar Zuniga, all of whom are advisors to the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica, participated.