José Antonio Fernández, a Spanish married priest, was dismissed from his job as a teacher of religion in 1997 after a newspaper published a photo of him and his family at a MOCEOP (Movement for Optional Celibacy) event. In Spain, teachers of religion, although they work in secular schools, are selected from a slate of candidates who have the approval of the Catholic Church, per a long-standing legal agreement between the Spanish government and the Church. Having exhausted all legal recourse in Spain to get his job back, Fernandez took his case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, claiming that his firing violated his rights to privacy and freedom of thought and expression.
This week the European Court of Human Rights rejected Fernandez's arguments and upheld the autonomy of the Catholic Church in making these decisions. Fernandez's attorney, José Luis Mazón, says they will appeal to the Court's Grand Chamber.