Church-State Relations

Church has right to ensure "competence" of religion teachers

.- Spain’s Constitutional Court has refused to hear a case alleging that the 1979 accord between that country and the Holy See is unconstitutional.  In so doing, the court confirms the right of the Church to require a certain standard of competence for religion teachers in the country’s schools.

The high court’s ruling was in reference to a case filed by Maria del Carmen Galayo, a religion teacher from the Canary islands whose contract was rescinded when diocesan officials learned she was living with another man after separating from her husband.

The court said religions confessions have the right to “determine the competency of persons charged with imparting the teachings of their respective creeds.” This refers not only to their competency as teachers but also that the Church can also determine who is fit and who is not based on one’s personal testimony of life.  “Personal testimony,” the court said, is a “defining component” of religious belief and a “determining” factor in deciding the qualification of teachers.

The accord between Spain and the Holy See establishes that the Church has the authority to determine the contents of the religion classes and propose appropriate textbooks and teaching material.  Although the Church is responsible for hiring religion teachers, the schools that employ them pay their salaries.

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