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2017

  • 28 August 2017: Invalidation of the end of pork-free menus in the canteens of Chalon-sur-Saône

On 28 August 2017, the Dijon Administrative Court overturned the decision of the city of Chalon-sur-Saône which, in September 2015, had eliminated pork substitute menus in school canteens (see “Substitute menus vs vegetarian menus in school cafeterias”). The court found that “this decision did not give primary consideration to the interests of the children within the meaning of the international convention on the rights of the child”. It specified in a press release that it was ruling in this instance solely on the case of the Chalon-sur-Saône school canteens, and that it was not issuing a general position of principle.

The Les Républicains Mayor of Chalon-sur-Saône, Gilles Platret, announced that the municipality would appeal the judge’s ruling. Given that this ruling came only a few days before the start of the school year and that it is materially impossible to implement in such a short time, the mayor decided to maintain the cafeterias’ existing working principles and “to attach to his appeal to the Administrative Court of Appeal of Lyon a summary suspension”.

For more information: Le Figaro, France Info.

Catherine Zimmerlin
  • July 2017: "Laïcité" and financing of churches: the case of French Guiana

By its decision of 2 June 2017 on the public funding of Catholic ministers of religion in French Guiana, the Constitutional Council addresses another singularity of the French regime of "laïcité".

See the article by Anne Fornerod, Après le droit alsacien-mosellan, le droit des cultes guyanais devant le Conseil constitutionnel français, 5 July 2017, ORELA (in French).

Anne Fornerod
  • 3 May 2017: Compulsory training for chaplains

The decree No. 2017-756 of 3 May 2017 renders compulsory for newly recruited military, hospital and prison chaplains, who receive remuneration, to obtain a civil and civic training diploma within two years of their recruitment. This obligation is applicable overseas only if training to obtain this diploma can be followed there, including as distance learning.
These provisions concern initial contracts concluded as from 1 October 2017 and are relevant only to chaplains who receive public remuneration, since voluntary chaplains are not concerned.
A decree of 5 May 2017 lays down the terms and conditions for the approval of training courses, which will be entitled to issue the diploma. Institutions of higher education are invited to apply for the registration of their training courses with a minimum of 125 hours and comprising « at least the following three courses: (1) Institutions of the Republic and secularism; (2) Great principles of the law of religion; (3) Human and social sciences of religions. The teaching referred to in (1) and (2) shall be a minimum of 70 hours » (Article 1). No pre-qualification requirements may be demanded to enroll in these courses. Educational institutions must also provide for the methods of awarding the diploma by validating previous studies or acquired experience (Article 1). The registration of training courses approved by the Ministers of the Interior and Higher Education is valid for a period of five years (Article 2).
These new provisions seek to ensure that candidates to chaplaincy have a minimum knowledge base relating to the administrative and legal context in which they operate.

Françoise Curtit
  • 8 February 2017: The Asswiller bells to be muted from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Following a complaint lodged by a couple living in Asswiller, a small commune in the Bas-Rhin, the administrative court of Strasbourg gave the mayor of the village 3 months to “attenuate the sound of the ringing of the Protestant church clock between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.”. If this cannot be implemented technically, the mayor must “suspend its operation in the meantime”. However, the ruling leaves it up to the town hall to use the church’s other bells.

This dispute has been going on since 2009, when the couple moved into the village a few metres from the church. Since then, exasperated by the sound pollution caused by the bells, the couple has begun to wonder: “At a time when secularism is the focus of discussion, why do we have to suffer the bells of a church that remains almost empty during services?” (see Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace).

The municipality will have to reimburse the couple for the €2,300 which the appraisal cost them. This ruling could encourage residents of other municipalities affected by the same problem to follow in their footsteps.

Voir France Bleu.

Catherine Zimmerlin
  • January 2017: Changes regarding organ donation

Law no. 2016-41 of 26 January 2016 on the modernisation of the French health system came into effect on 1 January 2017. This law covers in particular the issue of organ donation.
The Caillavet Act of 1976 already provided that any deceased person is considered a donor unless they are previously registered in the national register of refusals. In practice, however, where the deceased has not voiced any preference, the family and friends of the deceased were often called upon by the caregivers, which led to a high number of refusals to donate.
The Ministry of Health sought ways to increase the number of donors. It held several consultations with a view to establishing a ministerial decree on the procedures for refusing organ donation. One of them brought together representatives of religious institutions. Currently, no religious institution condemns organ donation in France. Some support the principle, such as the Catholic Church and most Protestant Churches, while others such as Judaism or Islam refer each individual to their own decision.
Law no. 2016-41 of 26 January 2016 was drafted following these consultations. It confirms the 1976 Cavaillet Act, and every French person remains a presumed donor unless they expressly object during their lifetime to the removal of any organ, as stated by Decree 2016-1118 of 11 August 2016 regarding procedures for stating the refusal of organ removal after death. This objection may be made by being listed on the National Registry of Refusals. The objection may also be expressed in writing to a relative, or even by verbal notification to the relatives; the objection may be revoked at any time.
See also, in the chapter on the legal status of religions, the specific provisions regarding organ donation.

References:
. Law no. 2016-41 of 26 January 2016 on the modernisation of the French health system
. Decree 2016-1118 of 16 August 2016 approving the rules of good practice relating to the interviewing of relatives with regard to organ and tissue removal
. National website for organ donation

Anne-Laure Zwilling

D 30 August 2017    AAnne Fornerod AAnne-Laure Zwilling ACatherine Zimmerlin AFrançoise Curtit

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