Reverend Ray Owen’s prayers were answered last week when MEPs called for
changes in UK law to give the clergy the same employment rights as other
The European Parliament overwhelmingly backed the case of the Owen who couldn’t
challenge his dismissal by the Church of England because he is "employed
Owen took his complaint for unfair dismissal to Brussels after losing his
position as team rector in the Parish of Hanley, Stoke on Trent, in 1999.
The resolution, which has no legal force, states: "The clergy should
enjoy the same human rights as other citizens of the European Union.
"Their relationship with their employers in the UK is governed by
common law and ecclesiastical law, which fail to provide essential rights to
the clergy, notably the right to a fair and public hearing by an independent
and impartial tribunal in cases of dispute."
At the moment the clergy’s status is governed by a 1912 law that gives them
the unique role of being employed of God – a seemingly unforgiving boss.