Chilean bishops warn new constitution places religious freedom at risk

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In a document analyzing a proposed draft of a new constitution, the bishops of Chile warned that religious freedom will be at risk if the constitution is approved by Chileans this fall.

“By being subject to what is established in the proposed Constitution, religious freedom is put at risk, which is made worse by the fact that … the proposal doesn’t give conscientious objection a constitutional status,” the bishops charged.

The constitution’s text will be approved or rejected Sept. 4 in a plebiscite in which all Chileans will participate.

Against this background — and as a result of the bishops’ meeting that ended July 22 — the bishops spoke out to express their concern about issues with wide-ranging effects.

The prelates criticized that, according to the Article 67 Section 4 of the proposed constitution, the exercise of the right to religious freedom must be done “in conformity with the law, respecting the rights, duties, and principles established by this Constitution.”

Consequently, people or institutions “could be forced to adopt practices or convey values that contradict their faith,” the bishops said.

The bishops said the new constitution proposes “the right to abortion, adopting a questionable orientation to sex education where parents participate in a very insufficient way, and promoting a radical theory of gender.”

The bishops also noted that “the system established to give legal recognition to religious denominations leaves their existence or suppression in the hands of administrative bodies, which can endanger the full exercise of religious freedom.”

On the right to life issue, the Chilean bishops said that the proposal places a right to abortion in the legal system on par with a constitutional right such that third parties cannot interfere with it, and “excludes not only the participation of the father in this decision, but also the exercise of personal and institutional conscientious objection.”

“It’s striking that the proposed constitution recognizes rights for nature and expresses concern for animals as sentient beings, but doesn’t recognize any dignity or any right to a human being in the mother’s womb,” the bishops said.

They also opposed the constitutional provision that ensures the right of every person to a “dignified death,” defining it as an ambiguous right, “because it seeks to solve a problem by deliberately ending a human life.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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