The Economist states that the Holy See stubbornly defends religious freedom. In fact, religious freedom was formally spelled out as a Catholic doctrine when Pope Paul VI promulgated the declaration on religious freedom, Dignitatis Humanae, in 1965.*
An analysis of data from Pew Research studies finds that government restrictions on religious freedom and social hostilities involving religion are more than two times lower in countries where Catholics are the majority population than in countries where Catholics are a minority (see charts below and click here for more details on countries and regions).
Whether Catholic doctrine plays a role in this, however, is not possible to assess from the data. Indeed, the Pew Forum studies do not attempt to analyze the many factors - historical, demographic, cultural, religious, economic and political - that might explain the level of religious restrictions or hostilities in a country. The studies seek simply to measure the restrictions and hostilities that exist in a quantifiable, transparent and reproducible way, based on reports from numerous governmental and nongovernmental organizations.
* Also TEDx conference on Religious Freedom held at the Vatican.
* Catholic demographics.