European Human Rights Court Rules Clergy Have a Right to Unionize

Here’s an interesting approach to church autonomy. This week, a chamber of the European Court of Human Rights ruled that clergy (and lay employees) of the Romanian Orthodox Church have a right to unionize, notwithstanding the Church’s objections. In 2008, clergy in a Church diocese formed a union to defend their “professional, economic, social and cultural interests” in their dealings with the Church. When the Romanian government registered the new union, the Church sued, pointing out that Church canons do not allow for unions and arguing that registration violated the principle of church autonomy. A Romanian court agreed with the Church, and the union challenged the court’s judgment in the ECtHR. The union argued that the decision not to register it violated Article 11 of the European Convention, which grants a right to freedom of association.

In this week’s decision, the chamber reasoned that, under Article 11, a state may limit freedom of association only if it shows “a pressing social need,” defined in terms of a “threat to a democratic society.” Romania had shown no such need here. The chamber faulted the Romanian court for considering only church traditions and ignoring other important factors, such as domestic and Read more

Religion, Tradition, and Change

A very nice column by David Brooks this morning on the relationship of religious and other traditions, individualism, and change.  The suggestion is that people who are interested in abandoning their traditions ought to think about choosing others.  A bit:

The paradox of reform movements is that, if you want to defy authority, you probably shouldn’t think entirely for yourself. You should attach yourself to a counter-tradition and school of thought that has been developed over the centuries and that seems true.

The old leftists had dialectical materialism and the Marxist view of history. Libertarians have Hayek and von Mises. Various spiritual movements have drawn from Transcendentalism, Stoicism, Gnosticism, Thomism, Augustine, Tolstoy, or the Catholic social teaching that inspired Dorothy Day.

These belief systems helped people envision alternate realities. They helped people explain why the things society values are not the things that should be valued. They gave movements a set of organizing principles. Joining a tradition doesn’t mean suppressing your individuality. Applying an ancient tradition to a new situation is a creative, stimulating and empowering act. Without a tradition, everything is impermanence and flux.