Thursday, December 06, 2012

Widow of former priest gets pension rights

Le Figaro

The Strasbourg administrative court ruled that denying Helen B. the survivor's pension of her husband, who married her after his retirement, was contrary to the principle of equality.

In Strasbourg, the Administrative Court ruled in favor of the widow of a former priest giving her the right to a survivor's pension from the state. Following the death of her husband in 2010, Helen B. was denied her right to the pension of her husband, who married her after his retirement.

In Alsace and Moselle, priests, pastors and rabbis are paid by the state because of the Napoleonic Concordat which is still in force. As such, widowers or widows of pastors or rabbis are entitled to a survivor's pension and the payment of the grace quarter (full treatment of the deceased for three months after his death). But not the widows of priests.

Helen B. had sought her husband's pension. But the Budget Ministry had rejected her demand in April 2011. To cancel this decision, Ms. B. lodged a complaint with the Administrative Court of Strasbourg, arguing that "this article is contrary to the constitutional principle of equality of rights and duties irrespective of religion." The Administrative Court ruled in her favor, deeming that Helen. B is entitled to receive a pension under the principle of equality.

For its part, Archbishop of Strasbourg said it was not involved in any way in this case. From the point of view of canon law, the priest -- even when retired -- contravened the rules of the Church by marrying, observed the chancellor of the Archdiocese Bernard Xibaut. But as for the widow, "it seems she was in a difficult financial situation, so it's good for her and her children," he commented.