Germany: Teaching nuns of Baden-Württemberg may be forced to relinquish their habit

Source: FSSPX News


The state of Baden-Württemberg passed a law in April 2004 banning the wearing of the veil for Islamic teachers. On October 10, the administrative federal Tribunal affirmed that the law should be applied to all religious communities. This decision implies that the nuns who teach in the public schools of the very Catholic Land, will have to abandon the wearing of the habit. The Länders of Lower Saxony and Bavaria have also adopted a law banning the Islamic veil in the civil service. Five other Länder of the sixteen which make up the Federal Republic of Germany are in the process of drawing up similar laws.

“There can be no question of exceptions for styles of clothes having religious motives in certain regions,” stated the tribunal. But concerning the fate which actually awaits the Sisters of Baden-Württemberg, the German federal authorities admit that they are perplexed. “The tribunal has ruled on the veil in public schools. What that means for nuns wearing the habit is open to interpretation,” said Wolfgang Sailer, spokesman for the administrative federal tribunal, to the ecumenical agency ENI.

The administration of the Land does not expect that this legal decision will pose any particular problems for the religious working in public teaching. The Education minister of Baden-Württemberg, Annette Schavan, was even pleased about the tribunal’s decision, affirming that “This ruling concerns the question of the wearing of the veil, it has not specifically decided how to treat the problem of nuns wearing their professional attire.” (sic)

The majority of members of religious orders teaching in public schools in Baden- Württemberg give courses in religious instruction, and one does not expect these teachers to be neutral, said Wolfgang Sailer. “There would be a problem if sisters and monks wearing the habit in public schools taught subjects other than religion.”