Law and religion round-up – 3rd September

France, state schools and religious dress

The BBC reports that France is to ban pupils from wearing the abaya – a loose-fitting full-length robe – in state schools. Gabriel Attal, the Minister for Education and Youth,  has said that the ban will apply from the start of the new school year which begins tomorrow. France already has a strict ban on religious signs in state schools and government buildings, and the hijab has been banned since 2004, as have Jewish kippot and large crosses. Attal argues that the abaya is “a religious gesture, aimed at testing the resistance of the Republic toward the secular sanctuary that school must constitute”. There is a longer piece by Agence France Pressehere.

Homophobia and the ECHR

In Lenis v Greece [2023] ECHR (application no. 47833/20) the applicant posted a homophobic article on his personal blog in December 2015 – when the Greek Parliament had been about to debate proposed legislation introducing civil unions for same-sex couples. At the time, he was the Orthodox Metropolitan of Kalavryta and Aigialeia. He was subsequently prosecuted and sentenced for incitement to hatred and discrimination. He took his case to Strasbourg.

The ECtHR, by a majority, declared his application inadmissible. It found that he was attempting to deflect Article 10 (freedom of expression) from its real purpose by using it for ends that were clearly contrary to the values that the Convention sought to promote. Consequently, in keeping with Article 17 (prohibition of abuse of rights), the Court found the application incompatible ratione materiae with the provisions of the Convention and rejected it.

We hope to publish a full note later in the week.

Full immersion font for church where Guy Fawkes was baptised

The L&RUK round-up of consistory court judgments circulated in August here and here includes reviews of fourteen judgments. At the end of the previous week, we received the detailed judgment Re St Michael le Belfrey York [2023] ECC Yor 2, of which Ray Hemingray at ELS commented “[t]he only way to appreciate the full extent of the works and the extent of the Chancellor’s findings of exceptionality, in the context of the guidelines in Re St Alkmund Duffield, is to read the judgment in full”.

The Belfrey is one of the largest 5% of the Church of England’s churches, is the largest Anglican Christian body in York, and one of the largest Christian communities in the North of England. For many years has been one of the largest parish contributors to diocesan funds. Its collection of windows is thought to be one of the largest of mid-16th century glass in any parish church in England.

For those who think this is a tl;dr piece, a “quick and dirty” solution might be to compare the “before” images of the church with the video and still photographs on Nevertheless, it would be remiss not to consider a project which the Victorian Society describes as:

[22]. …“probably the most comprehensive and destructive scheme of reordering of a Grade I listed multiphase church interior on which the Society has been consulted for many years…”.

Like De Bello Gallico, our review is divided into three parts; an overview is given in the first part which was posted on 29 August. The remaining parts will be posted in the coming week: the second includes extracts from the conclusions to the Duffield questions, and the final part considers the overall impact of the proposal and the court’s conclusions.

CFCE Meetings

The last CFCE Determinations we reported were for the meeting on Thursday 27 January 2022 and were included in the Ecclesiastical court judgments – March 2022. The outcomes of subsequent meetings were not posted on the CFCE web pages until August 2023. Determinations at CFCE Meetings from December 2022 have now become available and links will be provided in the end-of-month case round-up.

Laudato Si’ – the sequel

At a delegation of lawyers from member countries of the Council of Europe on Monday, Pope Francis said he was writing a second part of his Laudato Si’ to update it to “current issues”. The Vatican News indicated that his remarks were “off the cuff”; the official communication is recorded in the il Bollettino, and in a statement missed by many commentators, the Pope states: [emphasis added]:

“Dear lawyers, I appreciated the concern expressed in your Declaration for the necessary protection of your profession and for the fundamental principle of legal professional privilege, violations of which you have criticized in some member States. I understand and share this concern, and I encourage you in your efforts. It is essential that our societies preserve forms of confidential communication in which individuals can express themselves and lay down their burdens. This is very important. In the Church, we have the secret of Confession; you also have this forum, where a person is able to speak the truth to his or her lawyer so that the lawyer might help”.

After the presentation, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, explained that the new updated version of Laudato Si’ would focus in particular on the most recent extreme weather events and catastrophes affecting people across five continents. At last Wednesday’s general audience, the Pope announced that it would be published on 4 October, the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi. 

Quick links

And finally… I

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the ratification and entry into force of the European Convention of Human Rights on 3 September 1953. There’s a long post in celebration of the anniversary here.

 And finally… II

The Telegraph reports that the mother of the president of the Spanish Football Association has locked herself in a church and started a hunger strike in protest against the decision of prosecutors to start a preliminary sexual assault investigation after he kissed footballer Jenni Hermoso on the lips following her team’s victory in the Women’s World Cup. We suppose that – however bonkers – the story must be about “law” and “religion” in some obscure sense…

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