God's labourers, employees, or both?: the employment status of Catholic priests in Australia
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 09:58 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.