Vatican criticises European religious freedom ruling

The European Court of Human Rights has supported the right of employers to limit expression of religious beliefs in the workplace, in certain circumstances.

A Vatican representative, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, has spoken about ECHR, European Court of Human Rights, rulings which 'undermine religious freedoms.' Mamberti criticised the increasing secular nature of the European Union. As religious diversity in Europe increase,s freedom of conscience and religion is under attack. "Moral relativism" threatens to "undermine the foundations of individual freedom of conscience and religion," claimed the Archbishop.

A number of appeals to the ECHR, European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg, regarding religious freedoms in the workplace were settled last week. The employees had all been sacked or disciplined from their jobs. The cases before the ECHR included one woman who was not allowed to wear a piece of jewelry, namely a cross and chain, and a counselor who refused to counsel gays.

The appeals appear simple on the surface but, as the ECHR rulings show, are complicated. The rights of all parties are taken into account. In one case, the rights of gays seeking sex therapy from a counselor. The rights of the counselor who, due to religious beliefs would not offer sex therapy to gays. The employers expectation that an employee who is a counselor will be unbiased. In this case the man was sacked by his employer for failing to carry out his work. His appeal to the ECHR was rejected. 'The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled employers did not violate the religious rights of a registrar who refused to officiate for civil partnerships of same-sex couples and a counselor deemed unwilling to offer sex therapy for gays' reported Reuters.

Three out of four recent appeals to the ECHR, by Christians, were rejected. The Vatican has criticised the religious freedom ruling, reports the Huffington Post.

The European Court of Human Rights ruling 'affirms employers' right to limit the expression of religious beliefs in the workplace when it conflicts with equality laws.' The ruling was not welcomed by the Vatican.

Archbishop Mamberti, the Vatican's foreign minister, disagreed and In a radio interview he said that on '"morally controversial subjects, such as abortion or homosexuality, people should be free to speak out. People have a right to 'defend their freedom of conscience.'"

In two separate cases the wearing of a small cross, on a necklace chain, at work received different verdicts. A nurse lost her appeal due to safety issues. A flight stewardess had her appeal upheld.

Mamberti said the Catholic Church's role on these issues is to "defend individual freedoms of conscience and religion in all circumstances, even in the face of the 'dictatorship of relativism.'"