Costa Rica Supreme Court strikes down ban on clergy holding public office – except Catholics

November 13, 2014
2 Comments

Presidency Minister Melvin Jiménez got some good news Wednesday. The one-time Lutheran bishop has been cleared by the Supreme Court’s Constitutional Chamber to keep his seat in President Luis Guillermo Solís’ Cabinet when a majority of the justices ruled that a ban on religious authorities heading ministries only applied to Roman Catholic priests.

The court ruled that the ban applied exclusively to Catholic priests for “historical-constitutional” reasons, according to a statement from the court on Wednesday. Costa Rica’s official state religion is Catholicism. The seven-seat Constitutional Chamber said in its decision that the ban also violated Article 23 of the American Convention on Human Rights that calls for equality in eligibility to participate in public office.

The court’s decision upheld President Solís’ initial argument in May that the constitutional rule only prevented Catholic clergy from serving on the presidential Cabinet. The Catholic Church responded at the time by saying Solís’ statements were discriminatory.

The Tico Times called the Archdiocese of San José for comment several times Wednesday but was unable to reach someone for comment.

A constitutional complaint was brought against Jiménez’s appointment as presidency minster by Álvaro Orozco Carballo, a lawyer and a Catholic activist, soon after Solís appointed Jiménez to his Cabinet. Orozco argued that Jiménez’s role with the Lutheran Church prevented him from serving on the Cabinet under Article 142 of the Constitution.

The Lutheran Church in Costa Rica had previously issued statements that Jiménez had resigned from his duties as a Lutheran bishop and was no longer active in the day-to-day operations of the church. In July, the Government Attorney’s Office issued an opinion that Jiménez’s appointment was unconstitutional

Jiménez is not the only man of the cloth in Solís’ administration. Father Gustavo Meneses, a Catholic priest, heads the Costa Rican Fisheries Institute, INCOPESCA. The constitutional phrasing, however, limits the ban on religious authorities holding ministry-level posts.

Justices Nancy Hernández and Luis Fernando Salazar abstained from the vote. Justice Paul Rueda said the complaint was inadmissible.

 

 

You may be interested

Supreme Court president resigns over corruption scandal
Cementazo
78 views
Cementazo
78 views

Supreme Court president resigns over corruption scandal

AFP and Tico Times - July 16, 2018

The president of Costa Rica's Supreme Court (CSJ), Carlos Chinchilla, left his position this Monday after being reprimanded for his…

This week in the Peace Corps: Celebrating English learning
Changemakers
1119 views
Changemakers
1119 views

This week in the Peace Corps: Celebrating English learning

Katherine Stanley - July 16, 2018

Costa Rican public schools are returning from vacation this week, and many students are still riding high on their successes…

Marchers support traditional family structures
protests
109 views
protests
109 views

Marchers support traditional family structures

AFP and The Tico Times - July 16, 2018

"The family is the base for happiness." "A family in which the parents become completely one in love, is a…