The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has set November 22nd as the date when it will hear oral arguments in the case of José Antonio Fernández Martínez, a former priest from Murcia, Spain, who was fired from his job as professor of religion at an institute in Caravaca de la Cruz because of his activism in support of optional celibacy and the right of priests to marry.
Fernández Martínez, who has five children, turned to the European Court of Human Rights, represented by lawyer José Luis Mazón, after his appeal to the Constitutional Court of a lower court ruling in Murcia was dismissed. The Spanish courts dismissed his lawsuit against the Diocese of Cartagena over his firing. The higher court dismissed the claim because it did not believe the priest's rights had been violated.
The plaintiff was ordained in 1961. In 1984, he asked for dispensation and got married. Later, in 1991, he began to work as a professor of religion in an institute in Caravaca de la Cruz and then in another one in Mula, but was terminated in 1997, after his involvement in the optional celibacy movement Movimiento Pro Celibato Opcional (MOCEOP) became public.