Wednesday, August 10, 2022

    Adoption of law on chaplaincy means recognition of its importance – OCU

    The Orthodox Church of Ukraine has praised the adoption by the Verkhovna Rada, the country’s parliament, of the law on military chaplaincy, noting this testifies to the recognition by state authorities of the importance of the efforts undertaken by all military priests who work to strengthen Ukraine’s spiritual defense.

    In addition, the law on chaplaincy regulates at the appropriate level the legal status of chaplains, clearly defines their subordination and grounds for operating in the Joint Forces Operation zone in Donbas.

    “The law is important because it changes the status of chaplains. Prior to that, a chaplain was an employee who was a contractor of the Armed Forces. According to the new law, a chaplain will be a full-time serviceman, which is important,” explained Archpriest Leontiy Nykytenko, Deputy Head of the Synodal Department of the OCU Military Clergy for Cooperation with the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the OCU press service quoted him as saying.

    The law provides for the creation of a separate vertical of the Military Chaplaincy Service. Earlier it was not clearly defined to whom a chaplain should be subordinated, while his tasks and functions were not specified.

    The law stipulates that by-laws will be passed as well, such as the Regulations on the chaplaincy service, that the activities of military chaplains in the Armed Forces and other military structures will be streamlined, which is also very important, said Father Leontiy.

    “This is the first experience of a new level of cooperation between the Church and the state. Although a chaplain has become a soldier, he remains a priest. The church or other religious organizations will authorize pastoral activities in security agencies. Without this permit, no one will be allowed to work and perform such functions. This is also a precautionary measure because no one will be appointed to such a post with the Armed Forces without the consent of the Church,” said the deputy head of the Military Clergy’s Synodal Department.

    The law will come into force on July 1, 2022, except for a single norm, which has been postponed for five years – the requirements for the relevant professional degree of chaplains. “The law makes it mandatory for a chaplain to have a higher theological degree. It also raises the chaplain’s professional activity to a new level,” said Father Leontiy.

    In conclusion, he drew attention to a certain symbolism of the law on military chaplains being passed on November 30. The thing is that eight years ago, on November 30, 2013, St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Cathedral became a shelter for Maidan activists.

    “The adoption of the law on military chaplaincy is not just about the recognition of the activities of military chaplains. This is about the recognition by the state of the importance of Church. Even then, on November 30, the Church showed that it stands with the people, that it actively participates in their lives, in joys and trials, and not just observing the processes in society from the side,” summed up the OCU priest.