Working to promote freedom of conscience for every person, no matter who they are or where they live.

Moldovian Parliamentarians Call for Religious Equality

James Standish (l) and Dr. John Graz (2nd from right) with members of the Parliament of Moldova

Silver Spring MD, USA [IRLA news]. Members of the Parliament of Moldova called for religious equality during a visit to the world headquarters of the International Religious Liberty Association's (IRLA) on August 1, 2002. "As members of the European Council, we must not only respect the regulations of the Council, but treat all religions equal in our country," said Stefan Secareanu, a member of the Committee for Human Rights and National Minorities for the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova.

A guest of the U.S. Department of State, Mr. Secareanu and three of his other colleagues are on a tour of some cities in the U.S. to observe and learn about minority and human rights issues in the U.S. Visiting the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA) headquarters for the first time, Mr. Secareanu and his colleagues inquired on membership opportunities with the IRLA.

"Any organization who supports and believes Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights can be a member of our association," explain John Graz, secretary-general for the IRLA. Minority religious groups have, in the past, experienced some difficulty in registering new congregations, faced problems renting facilities for religious activities, and not permitted to advertise religious programs through the media. Responding to questions from the IRLA officers and staff, Valeriu Calmatui, a member of the Committee for Economy, Industry, Budget and Finance, reported that registration in the past had been a problem, but that a new law voted just two weeks ago has streamlined the process, which is now simpler and less complex. "Registration for churches is necessary, just like one would register an educational institution," Mr. Calmatui said.

Chaired by Mihail Jatsco, the newly established Commission for Religious Affairs now processes all registration requests in Moldova. "We commend the Moldovian government for their efforts in working with other governments and non-governmental organizations to seek way to promote religious freedom in their country, and to seek what is necessary to ensure appropriate legislation are in placed to maintain freedom and harmony," said Dr. John Graz."

Other members of the Moldovian Parliament included Mr. Mihail Andronic, member of the Public Administration Committee; Mr. Valeriu Calmatui, a member of the Committee for Economy, Industry, Budget and Finance; and Mr. Iosif Chetraru.

Neighbors with Romania and Ukraine, Moldova's population of over 4 million is made up of 95.5% Eastern Orthodox. Chartered in 1893, the IRLA has defended religious freedom for all people for over 100 years. [Viola Hughes]