German Constitutional Court upholds dismissal of divorced & remarried Roman Catholic doctor

Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court [Bundesverfassungsgericht] has reversed the judgment of the Federal Labour Court declaring unlawful the dismissal of a senior doctor in a Roman Catholic hospital after his remarriage without a prior annulment.

The self-determination of religious groups is protected by Article 140 of Germany’s Basic Law read in conjunction with Article 137(3) of the Weimar Constitution; and the Second Senate of the Court upheld the applicant’s dismissal, ruling that the Labour Court had taken insufficient account of the meaning and scope of the Church’s right to self-determination and that courts should not override Church decisions based on ecclesiastical self-understanding so long as those decisions did not contradict basic constitutional guarantees.

Somewhat surprisingly, however, the Court took the view that the case law of the European Court of Human Rights gave no reason to modify the interpretation of constitutional law on the matter. Continue reading