Although Pavez was promoted to another position at the school, the woman decided to take legal action in the Chilean justice system, but since she didn’t get favorable results, she went to the international court. Her case was accepted by the Inter-American Court in September 2019.
One of the reparations demanded by the Inter-American Court of the Chilean state is the “guarantee of non-repetition,” i.e., that the Chilean state must implement a training plan, within a period of two years, for “people responsible for evaluating the suitability of teaching staff and judicial officials, of all levels, who are called upon to hear appeals for the protection of fundamental rights on the scope and content of the right to equality and non-discrimination, including the prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation.”
In the time remaining before the deadline, both the Church and the state have to decide how they will proceed.
The Church as a state entity?
Tomás Henríquez, area director for Latin America and the Caribbean for the Alliance Defending Freedom International (ADF), explained that what the Inter-American Court ordered “in this case was to point out that it is the state that has to establish training for the people who are going to be in charge of evaluating the suitability of the teaching staff, in the case of the Catholic Church the bishop of the diocese or whoever has been delegated to this function.”
“How is the state going to comply? This is something that is not regulated by the court nor is it regulated by the state, and it is a pending discussion,” the Chilean lawyer told ACI Prensa in a recent interview.
In addition, Henríquez considers the provision of the Inter-American Court to be “an absolutely unacceptable imposition” because it is the Church “in the exercise of her own powers, which determines who are those who teach the faith.”
“What concerns me about this training on gender is not that they are going to change the opinion of the members of the clergy, but what it implies from the symbolic point of view, which is the claim to subjugate the Church, an entity prior to the existence of the state, and make it operate as if it were a state entity,” the ADF International director criticized.
Bishop González told ACI Prensa that what was ordered by the Inter-American Court “has not been complied with and surely it will not be possible to comply with so easily.”
“I don’t see how it could be possible for an international organization or a state body to subject a bishop or a vicar to some kind of course to not discriminate. My personal opinion is that it cannot be done,” he maintained.
For the prelate, it is “inadmissible that someone external to them is introduced into the exclusive and proper competence of religious denominations to qualify the judgment made by the religious authority regarding moral suitability.”
(Story continues below)
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“The moral suitability that a person has to transmit the faith in the classroom is very important. In the case of the teacher Pavez, what happened is that there was a lack of moral fitness, because she began to live in a way that was absolutely contrary to the faith of the Catholic Church and its moral teaching,” he explained.
Referring to the order of the Inter-American Court, he stated that currently “we don’t know exactly what is going to happen, but the serious thing is that this could lead the educational authority to unilaterally introduce this decision of the court, that we bishops are not willing to accept.”
Finally, González reiterated that “it’s possible that a teacher has the skills to teach religion, but it can happen, as in the Pavez case, that she does not have the moral suitability to transmit it.”
In April 2022, the deputy director of ADF International, Robert Clarke, said that the decision of the Inter-American Court in this case “does not comply with international law, which clearly protects the autonomy of religious communities, and constitutes an exception if compared to similar cases decided in other human rights courts.”
“Once the state arrogates the responsibility of determining who is qualified to teach denominational religious education classes, why not also interfere in deciding which priests or ministers of worship are acceptable and, in that way, try to change the most deeply held beliefs of the autonomous religious communities?” Clarke questioned.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.