Macquarie University
01front.pdf (254.5 kB)

God's labourers, employees, or both?: the employment status of Catholic priests in Australia

Download (254.5 kB)
posted on 2022-03-28, 09:58 authored by Christopher Jackson
This thesis examines whether Catholic priests perform their vocation under a contract of employment and are employees according to the common law of Australia. The Overview explains the importance of this issue and provides some definitions. Section One outlines some key recent decisions and suggests three reasons as to why the High Court has decided that there is no presumption that ministers of religion do not intend to enter into legal relations. Section Two identifies two Australian cases which have commented on the employment status of Catholic priests. The circumstances of a Catholic priest's appointment are then analysed to determine if there is an intention to enter into a legal agreement and whether there. is a contract of employment. The possible 'employers' of Catholic priests are also considered. Ag Catholic priests have been said to be employees in the United States, the relevance of these cases will be - commented on. Given that there is an arguable case that Australian priests are employees; Section Three adopts a theoretical approach to ask if the civil law should regulate the relationship between the Catholic Church and its priests. An outline of the theory of political pluralism as articulated by JN Figgis is provided. The theory is then applied to examine whether priests should be regarded as employees. Finally, some critiques of political pluralism and responses are discussed.


Alternative Title

Employment status of Catholic priests in Australia

Table of Contents

Introduction -- Overview -- Section One: Recent developments -- Section Two: Are priests employees?


Bibliography: p. 26-32

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis bachelor


Legal research project (BA LLB), Macquarie University, Division of Law, Dept. of Law

Department, Centre or School

Department of Law

Year of Award



Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Christopher Jackson 2007. This thesis was digitised for the purposes of Document Delivery. Macquarie University ResearchOnline attempted to locate the author but where this has not been possible; we are making available, open access, selected parts of the thesis which may be used for the purposes of private research and study. If you have any enquiries or issues regarding this work being made available please contact Macquarie University ResearchOnline - If you wish to access the complete thesis, on receipt of a Document Supply Request, placed with Macquarie University Library by another library, we will consider supplying a copy of this thesis. For more information on Document Supply, please contact






1 online resource (32 p.)

Former Identifiers

mq:26124 1874639

Usage metrics

    Macquarie University Theses


    Ref. manager