Countries known for their Catholicism aren’t always known for their libertarianism. Libertarianism tends to be associated with majority protestant nations (mainly due to the influence of the United Kingdom) more than anything. But there are certainly some liberty-loving Catholic countries and ones that may surprise you.

We averaged the Frasier Institute’s Economic Freedom Index with the country’s rate of Catholic adherents. Here are the results:

5. Lithuania

Freedom Score: 7.92 Catholic Population: 77.2 TLC Score: 78.2

Caught between national socialism and communism for nearly a century, Lithuania has become one of the freest countries in the region and with a strong Catholic population, makes for a great libertarian Catholic country.

According to the 2011 census, 77.2% of Lithuanians belong to the Roman Catholic Church. The Church has been the majority denomination since the Christianization of Lithuania at the end of the 14th century. The Reformation did not impact Lithuania to a great extent as seen in Estonia or Latvia as generally only local Germans in the Klaipėda/Memel area turned Protestant, while Lithuanians and Poles remained Catholic, and Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians—Eastern Orthodox. Some priests actively led the resistance against the Communist regime (symbolized by the Hill of Crosses).

In mid-2017, the Luthuanian parliament (Seimas) rejected a proposal to institutionalize same-sex marriage.

4. Paraguay

Freedom Score: 6.91 Catholic Population: 88 TLC Score: 78.55

Its rich Catholic tradition outshining its sub-par freedom index score, this tropical country is as good as it gets in South America for the libertarian Catholic. Through the 20th century, Paraguay continued to endure a succession of authoritarian governments, culminating in the regime of Alfredo Stroessner, who led South America’s longest-lived military dictatorship from 1954 to 1989. He was toppled in an internal military coup, and free multi-party elections (and the legalization of communist parties) were organized and held for the first time in 1993. A year later, Paraguay joined Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay to found Mercosur, a regional economic collaborative.

Paraguay has remained a strong pro-life country, continuing its ban on abortion in 2016.

3. Poland

Freedom Score: 7.34 Catholic Population: 85.8 TLC Score: 79.6

Pope St. John Paul II hails from Poland

The establishment of a Polish state can be traced back to 966, when Mieszko I, ruler of a territory roughly coextensive with that of present-day Poland, converted to Christianity. The Kingdom of Poland was founded in 1025, and in 1569 it cemented a longstanding political association with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania by signing the Union of Lublin. This union formed the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, one of the largest (about 1 million km²) and most populous countries of 16th- and 17th-century Europe, with a uniquely liberal political system which adopted Europe’s first written national constitution, the Constitution of 3 May 1791.

Communist dictators legalized abortion but when Solidarity took power after the liberalization of the country in 1989, restrictions were placed on the procedure. Poland continues to be one of the most pro-life countries in Europe.

Poland produced one of the most ardent anti-Communist popes ever in St. John Paul II and is in a good position to become the most libertarian Catholic country on Earth.

2. Ireland

Freedom Score: 8.19 Catholic Population: 78.3 TLC Score: 80.1

Defying the downward trend of many European nations recently, this predominantly Catholic country has made great strides to liberalize its economy, which has in turn paid great dividends, making it the fifth freest economy in the world.

The earliest evidence of human presence in Ireland is dated at 10,500 BC. Gaelic Ireland had emerged by the 1st century AD. The island was Christianized from the 5th century onward. Following the Norman invasion in the 12th century, England claimed sovereignty over Ireland. However, English rule did not extend over the whole island until the 16th–17th century Tudor conquest, which led to colonization by settlers from Britain. In the 1690s, a system of Protestant English rule was designed to materially disadvantage the Catholic majority and Protestant dissenters, and was extended during the 18th century. With the Acts of Union in 1801, Ireland became a part of the United Kingdom. A war of independence in the early 20th century was followed by the partition of the island, creating the Irish Free State, which became increasingly sovereign over the following decades, and Northern Ireland, which remained a part of the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland saw much civil unrest from the late 1960s until the 1990s. This subsided following a political agreement in 1998. In 1973 the Republic of Ireland joined the European Economic Community while the United Kingdom, and Northern Ireland, as part of it, did the same.

Ireland’s prolife legislation has been under intense fire from pro-choice groups recently, but with a referendum vote in 2018, the country has a chance of redeeming itself.

1. Malta

Freedom Score: 7.7 Catholic Population: 88.6 TLC Score: 82.8

Malta is a small island nation in the Mediterranean with a great mix of culture and economic climate. King George VI of the United Kingdom awarded the George Cross to Malta in 1942 for the then British colony’s bravery in the Second World War. The George Cross continues to appear on Malta’s national flag. Under the Malta Independence Act, passed by the British Parliament in 1964, Malta gained independence from the United Kingdom as an independent sovereign Commonwealth realm, officially known from 1964 to 1974 as the State of Malta, with Elizabeth II as its head of state. The country became a republic in 1974, and although no longer a Commonwealth realm, remains a member state of the Commonwealth of Nations. Malta was admitted to the United Nations in 1964 and to the European Union in 2004; in 2008, it became part of the Eurozone.

Malta has a long Christian legacy and its Archdiocese of Malta is claimed to be an apostolic see because, according to Acts of the Apostles, St Paul was shipwrecked on “Melita”, now widely taken to be Malta. Catholicism is the official religion in Malta. However, the Constitution also states that all persons in Malta are entitled to the full freedom of conscience and enjoy the free exercise of their respective mode of religious worship.

The country is also proud of its pro-life culture, where abortion is illegal and there is a strong movement to have the morning-after pill outlawed as well.

Here is the complete list:

Freedom IndexPercentage Catholic
The Libertarian Catholic Score
1Malta7.788.682.8
2Ireland8.1978.380.1
3Poland7.3485.879.6
4Paraguay6.918878.55
5Lithuania7.9277.278.2
6Philippines7.4781.478.05
7Mexico6.958175.25
8Peru7.447675.2
9Panama7.597072.95
10Spain7.5169.672.35
11Luxembourg7.6365.971.1
12Costa Rica7.526268.6
13Austria7.6658.867.7
14Chile7.775566.35
15Belgium7.445866.2
16Guatemala7.694761.95
17Switzerland8.4437.360.85
18Rwanda7.5743.759.7
19Canada7.9438.759.05
20Mauritius8.0423.652
21Australia7.9922.651.25
22United States7.9420.850.1
23Latvia7.7519.148.3
24New Zealand8.4811.147.95
25Singapore8.814.846.45

Related Post