Rorate Caeli

Full text: German Bishops' Conference explains change in labor laws allowing for employment of homosexuals in "civil unions"

"Hi ! We're from the German Bishops' Conference and we're here to help !"

This is the original press release of the German Bishops Conference (Deutsche Bischofskonferenz), published on May 5, 2015, explaining why the bishops of Germany have chosen to change their labor rules allowing for the almost unlimited employment and the end of the possibility of dismissal of persons who enter into permanent "relationships" that violate the doctrine on Marriage established by Our Lord Jesus Christ , including (and especially, as the legalese below makes clear between the lines), same-sex civil "unions" (known as "registered life partnerships" in German law) -- just one more step in the German "Progressives" war machine effort to force the Synod to accept immorality as a fait accompli.

Press Release
5 May 2015

Revision of the Church's Labor Law
Bishops Pass an Amendment to the “Constitution of the Ecclesial Service within the Frame of the Church's Labor Conditions”

On April 27, 2015, the Plenary Assembly of the Association of the German Dioceses (VDD) passed a revision of the “Constitution of the ecclesial service within the Frame of the Church's Labor Conditions” (Constitution – Const). During the recent years, this current decision was prepared for by an episcopal working group and already discussed several times by the bishops themselves. The amendment concerns the collective, as well as the individual, Labor Law:

1) In the area of the collective Labor Law, the ruling of the Federal Labor Court of 20 November 2012 concerning the ban on strikes within the Ecclesial Service is being picked up. The new constitution determines that in the future, labor unions are to be included on the organizational level when dealing with ecclesial conditions of work contracts (art. 6, para. 3 Const). Further details concerning the tasks, constitution and working methods of the labor-law related Commission of the Third Way were determined in the Frame-CODA-Constitution which had been passed already on 24 November 2014 by the Plenary Assembly of the Association of the German Dioceses. (See Press Release of 26 November 2014, see below for the downloading of a current copy of the Frame-CODA-Constitution of 24 November, 2014).

2) In the same way, the allowance of access by the labor unions to ecclesial institutions (art. 6, para. 2 Const) has now been revised. Representatives of labor unions receive, accordingly, a right of acces to the ecclesial institutions, even if they do not work for the Church themselves, so that they can recruit members for their various labor-coalitions, inform them about their own specific missions, and care for their members. 

3) In the area of the individual Labor Law, certain demands, which are specific to the ecclesial demands presented to their employees in the ecclesial service, have been adapted according to changes in jurisdiction, legislation, and society. Grave violations against the demands of loyalty can, in individual cases, be followed by labor-law related sanctions. If an employee does not act according to the requirements for loyalty, the ecclesial employer, also in the future, has the duty first to hear the concerned employee and to investigate how he can with effectiveness deal with the violations of duty (art. 5, para. 1 Const). With respect to the penalty for violations of loyalty, the principle of the ultima ratio has to be applied. This means that the termination of contract is only the last and final resort. The employer first has the duty to exhaust all imaginable milder measures, as perceived by the employee (e.g., rebuke, warning letter, transfer to another position, dismissal with the option of altered conditions of employment, and so on) before making use of the strongest instrument, namely, a the termination of contract.  

4) Those violations against the demand for loyalty which have to be regarded in the individual case as grave, are listed in the Law, with the help of examples, but not in a complete way (art. 5, para. 2 Const). The revision of the constitution differentiates between those violations against loyalty that apply to all employees and those that can only be committed by the Catholic employees. Among the grave violations there can be found, e.g., the public engagement against fundamental principles of the Catholic Church (e.g., the propagation of abortion or of xenophobia), the leaving of the Catholic Church, or conduct that is hostile toward the Church.

5) In the future, the second civil marriage after a civil divorce is generally to be regarded as a grave violation against loyalty, if such conduct according to the concrete circumstances is objectively prone to cause an enormous disturbance within the service community or within the professional sphere of influence and to affect the credibility of the Church in a negative way. The same applies to the entering into a registered life partnership [Rorate note: that is, including homosexual civil "unions"].

Therefore only in special circumstances and therefore only in exceptional cases can these forms of conduct lead to a termination of contract. That is the case for example when objective reasons cause fear that a new civil marriage or a registered partnership has a disturbing effect upon the collaboration within the service community. In the case of a remarriage, such conditions can arise for example by virtue of the professional position of the employee, from the way and from the manner that the remarried partner deals in the public with the failure of his own first marriage respectively with his own second marriage, or how he fulfills his legal duties from his his first marriage. An all-encompassing assessment will be necessary.

The Church's Labor Law does not know any form of automatic termination of contract. Whether it is possible to continue an employment, after a violation against the duties stemming from the employment contract, always depends upon the conditions of the individual case.

Within certain professional groups, there exist higher expectations of loyalty. Among these are employees who work in the fields of pastoral care or of catechesis, because of a Missio Canonica or with a special episcopal mission. A grave violation of loyalty among these professional groups is, in each case, prone to affect the credibility of the Church. Therefore, in such a case, the previous legal situation remains in force, i.e., essentially the same.

6) In order to establish a unified application of law, each (Arch-)Diocese will establish in the future,  or by choice in several dioceses together, a central office that shall be consulted before sentencing a termination of contract because of a violation of loyalty (art. 5 para. 4 Const). Additionally, the constitution contains a clause about a self-evaluation (art. 5 para. 5 Const). This evaluation will serve to evaluate the effects of the revised law in practice. This self-evaluation will take place in five years.

7) An additional working group, whose composition is still open, will examine the question as to whether the Church's Labor Law can be further strengthened institutionally.

8) The decision of the Plenary Assembly of the Association of the German Dioceses will become law only at that specific date, which will be formally announced in each (Arch)Diocese, namely at the publication of the revised law in each of the Diocese's official journals.

Background: This Constitution is the most important legal source of the Labor Law in the Catholic Church. Its ten articles form the pillars of the Church's Constitution of Labor Law. The existing episcopal working groups are composed of several diocesan bishops, as well as some additional legal experts. Its president was until his retirement Archbishop Dr. Robert Zollitsch (Freiburg). Since June 29, 2014, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki (Cologne) is its president.

[Original text: in German. A Rorate Translation by Robert and Maike Hickson]