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Priest Claimed Defamatory and False Statements Led to His Dismissal

But a court ruled the ministerial exemption barred it from resolving the priest’s claim.

Key point 8-10.01. The civil courts have consistently ruled that the First Amendment prevents the civil courts from applying employment laws to the relationship between a church and a minister.

A Pennsylvania court ruled that it was barred by the “ministerial exception” from resolving a priest’s claim that members of his church “interfered with” his employment contract by sharing negative information about him with diocesan officials for the purpose of having him permanently removed.

Background

A Catholic priest was appointed by contract by his diocese to be the priest and administrator for a church in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Prior to this assignment, the priest alleged that a lay employee (“Defendant 1”) and two lay members of the church (“Defendant 2” and “Defendant 3”) exerted influence over the parish’s finances.

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Posted:
  • June 9, 2022

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