T-449/18 Religious freedom does not exclude the guarantee of the fundamental right of petition

The Constitutional Court confirmed the tutela  granted to her under the right of petition to a woman to whom the Diocesan Ecclesiastical Court of the Diocese of Duitama and Sogamoso had denied her the delivery of copies of the process of declaration of nullity of the marriage. The ecclesiastical authority argued that these documents were subject to reservation, but, according to the Court, the Ecclesiastical Court must "clearly justify the reservation", and did not do so.

In the judgment, the Court considered that the response provided was not satisfactory and concluded: (i) the reason for which the reservation was opposed was not clearly established; (ii) the reason why said procedure was not specifically justified should be kept in reserve, and, (iii) since the reserve requires normative support, before the clear parameter vacuum that justified it, the provisions that ordinarily regulate the subject should be applied, without implying ignorance of the autonomy and independence of the Canonical Jurisdiction of the Catholic Church, in the terms stated in the concordat signed in 1973, between the Colombian State and the Holy See, approved by Law 20 of 1974.The Court  also reiterated that "religious freedom" is a fundamental pillar of Colombian society, in terms of the Political Constitution. Thus, the interpretation of canon law is exclusive competence of the Ecclesiastical jurisdiction, in such a way that the archives of the Catholic Church can not be examined, nor judged by a judge different from the Canonical Courts.  However, the Court warned that such autonomy does not imply that their decisions may disregard the constitutional guarantees of those who have opted for that religion. And it was specified that the petitions that are invoked in the framework of the proper exercise of the canonical jurisdiction must be processed under their own normative system, but with attachment to the constitutional guarantees in the Colombian State, providing well-founded, clear and justified answers, especially when try reserved actions and documents.