ECtHR’s Grand Chamber to Hear Romanian Church Autonomy Case

The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights  has decided to review the judgment in Sindicatul Păstoral Cel Bun v. Romania, a significant church autonomy case. In the case, a group of Romanian Orthodox priests sought to register as a trade union. The Romanian Orthodox Church objected, arguing that registration would violate the Church’s autonomy, and a Romanian court agreed. In January, however, a  lower chamber of the ECtHR ruled that the European Human Rights Convention granted the priests a right to unionize even over their church’s objections (for details, see our discussion of the lower chamber’s reasoning).  Romania referred the lower chamber’s decision to the Grand Chamber, which has accepted the case. This is not the only important church autonomy case at the ECtHR these days. In May, a different chamber ruled, in Fernandez Martinez v. Spain, that the church autonomy principle allowed a Catholic bishop to fire a priest who had been teaching religion in Spanish schools. Here’s a press release about the Romanian case from the Becket Fund, which represents Romania and the Romanian Orthodox Church.

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