German Catholic Church loses employment case in European court

By agency reporter
September 28, 2010

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has dealt the Roman Catholic Church in Germany a blow over its employment practices by saying that the church cannot dismiss an employee because of an inappropriate personal relationship.

ENInews reports that the European court ruled on 23 September 2010 in favour of a church musician from the diocese of Essen, in western Germany, who lost his job in 1997 after separating from his wife and forming another relationship.

In the last 13 years, church organist and choirmaster Bernhard Schueth has fought a protracted legal battle in his country. Time and again, Germany's courts have ruled in favour of the parish of Sankt Lambertus because Schueth, like all employees of Catholic Church institutions, had to sign a pledge to uphold the values of the church.

In separating from his wife and in forming a relationship with another woman, German courts ruled that Schueth was in breach of contract with the church even though he is not divorced.

The court found that the German labour courts had "failed to weigh Schueth's rights against those of the church employer in a compatible manner [with the European Convention on Human Rights]."

With acknowledgments to Ecumenical News International -


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