Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

About 400 Orthodox Chaplains will Serve in the Forces

A priest blessing a soldier

The MP will provide about 400 priests for fulltime service in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias said Tuesday at the Archpastoral Meeting in Moscow. “Given the uneven number of clergy in the dioceses and their concentration in the European part of Russia, some clergy will need to move to new places of service”, the patriarch said, as quoted on the official website of the MP. He went to say that in future we plan to establish training centres. They will have a three-month programme to prepare clergy for the specific requirements for service in the forces. The priests who would serve with the military should be enrolled in the ranks as clergy, but they should have prior experience of serving in the forces, and be younger priests with a higher theological education, fully qualified to serve in field conditions.

Military chaplain working with sailors of the fleet

Patriarch Kirill also informed the meeting that, in 2010, the post of assistant commander for spiritual affairs will be introduced in the Russian forces at the brigade and divisional levels, and in similar units of other services. The first such chaplains entered service on 1 December 2009 at foreign bases of the RF armed forces. There were 13 such full-time assistant commanders for spiritual affairs, and MP priests filled all of these slots. In addition, since October 2009, there have been department chaplains at the headquarters of the North Caucasian Military District. On instructions from Patriarch Kirill, the bishops of the Southern Federal District were sent a circular asking them to nominate 30 candidates for chaplain. On 21 July 2009, President Dmitri Medvedev, on the initiative of traditional religious leaders, re-established a corps of military chaplains, which, the patriarch said, opened a new page in the cooperation of the MP and the forces”. Addressing the Archpastoral Meeting, Patriarch Kirill urged the bishops to this take this “wonderful opportunity for the Church seriously”.

2 February 2010




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