Academic journal article Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice

Aspects concerning Rights and Social-Political Freedoms Stipulated by the Romanian Constitution

Academic journal article Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice

Aspects concerning Rights and Social-Political Freedoms Stipulated by the Romanian Constitution

Article excerpt

1. Freedom of Conscience

Art 29 in Romanian Constitution (in force): "(1) Freedom of thought, opinion, and religious beliefs shall not be restricted in any form whatsoever. No one shall be compelled to embrace an opinion or religion contrary to his own convictions. (2) Freedom of conscience is guaranteed; it must be manifested in a spirit of tolerance and mutual respect. (3) All religions shall be free and organized in accordance with their own statutes, under the terms laid down by law. (4) Any forms, means, acts or actions of religious enmity shall be prohibited in the relationships among the cults. (5) Religious cults shall be autonomous from the State and shall enjoy support from it, including the facilitation of religious assistance in the army, in hospitals, prisons, homes and orphanages. (6) Parents or legal tutors have the right to ensure, in accordance with their own convictions, the education of the minor children whose responsibility devolves on them." By examining article 29 in Constitution, it is concluded that freedom of conscience is the individual's possibility to have and express a particular private or a public opinion about surrounding world, to embrace or not a religious belief, to be a part or not of a religious cult, to perform or not the ritual of that belief.

Freedom of conscience as a fundamental freedom is complex, incorporating many aspects, more "freedoms". These aspects should all be analyzed because they exist and they can be materialized as a whole and because they legally define only one right, one freedom. The freedom of conscience is essential, leading the existence and the content of other freedoms, such as freedom of speech, freedom of the media, freedom of assembly, because essentially these freedoms are means of expressing thoughts, religion, opinions, secrecy of correspondence (Muraru, 2009: 157). Article 29 grants the right for every individual to have a personal opinion about the surrounding world.

Freedom of conscience is one of the first freedoms in human rights catalog because, especially religious freedom as a part of it, had a particular history, a long history filled with intolerance and pyres, excommunications and prejudices, many sufferings and pain. Along this history theories and different legal expressions were stated, law's role as a civilizing and pacifying factor being indisputable. Thus, if one opinion regards freedom religion as including freedom of conscience, other opinion states that they are distinct. Finally, the widely accepts theory nowadays is the one according to which freedom of conscience has a broader scope, including freedom of religion.

As for the relations between the state and the religious cults, the Constitution sanctions the separation of the state from the church, guarantees the autonomy of the religious cults, but compels the state to support the cults, including by facilitating religious assistance in the army, the hospitals, prisons, homes and orphanages.

The problem of the relations between the cults is disputed in Romanian society and not only. The Orthodox Church conception is that national history twins with history of the Romanian Orthodox church and from this perspective, sanctioning this historical reality by the Constitution is aimed. The other religious cults' perspective is that such a stipulation would be discriminatory and would affect the essence of secular character of the Romanian state. The Constitution in force sanctions the equality between the believers and non-believers and imposes cultivation of a tolerant climate, mutual respect between the different religious cult's believers. The Constitution forbids any forms of religious enmity.

2.Freedom of Conscience in Previous Constitutions

Freedom of conscience was stipulated starting with the first Constitution (1866) - article 21. 1866 Constitution, article 21: "Freedom of conscience is absolute. Freedom of all cults is guaranteed while their celebration doesn't prejudice public order or morality. …

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