The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine has passed Bill No.4626 on the military chaplaincy service.
The bill saw support of 291 MPs, according to the parliament’s press service.
“The law regulates relations in the field of exercising of a constitutional right to freedom of thought and religion by servicemen of the Armed Forces, National Guard, other military formations set up in line with the laws of Ukraine, and the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, defining legal and organizational principles of military chaplaincy,” the bill’s text reads.
The military chaplaincy service shall be formed as a separate structure within the Armed Forces, the National Guard, and other military formations set up in line with Ukraine’s legislation, as well as the State Border Guard Service, the type of which depends on the scope, nature, and complexity of measures toward meeting spiritual and religious needs of servicemen with the headquarters, groupings, military units, military educational institutions, and other military institutions and organizations.
At the level of a separate battalion, there shall be one chaplain per military unit.
The relevant military chaplaincy services shall report directly to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Commander of the National Guard of Ukraine, heads of other military formations set up in line with Ukrainian legislation, and Head of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine.
The number of military chaplains shall be no lower than 0.15% of the total number of troops in all forces in question.
To qualify for a position of a military chaplain, a candidate must hold Ukrainian citizenship and be a clergyman with a religious organization registered in Ukraine who has received from his religious organization a mandate to perform military chaplaincy services
A candidate must be a holder of a degree in theology, the law says. This norm shall come into force 5 years after the law enters into force.
If a citizen has been banned access to military units, he shall not be appointed a military chaplain, the legislation says.
All personal data obtained by chaplains is deemed confidential.
Military chaplains are entitled to not answer questions about any facts and circumstances of which they became aware during confessions.
Appropriate quotas of confessional representation have been laid down.
Interfaith Councils on Military Chaplaincy under the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Internal Affairs shall be established as advisory bodies.