IRF - Institute for Religious Freedom, Kyiv, Ukraine

Defense Ministry initiated the chaplaincy service in Armed forces of Ukraine PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 06 February 2015 14:28

Photo: Alexander Khudoteply/AFP
 
KYIV – The Defense Ministry of Ukraine approved the Regulations on military clergymen (chaplaincy service) in the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Decree No. 40 as of January 27, 2015, signed by the Minister of Defense of Ukraine Colonel Stepan Poltorak, was submitted for registration with the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, Institute of Religious Freedom reports.

Chaplaincy service will be provided not only in the military units, but also in the National Guard and the State Border Service, as envisaged in Decree No. 677-p of the Government of Ukraine as of February 07, 2014.

This initiative was undertaken by the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, which has prepared the relevant provision and agreed it with various authorities and officials over 6 months. Senior Officer for working with civic, religious organizations and patronage relations of the Department of Social and Humanitarian Policy of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine Colonel Ruslan Kohanchuk has reported to the completion of this process.

The Regulation states that “the primary purpose of a military priest (chaplain) is a religious care of the servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and their families, aimed at encouragement and deepening of religious life, strengthening positive character traits and moral values.”

It is assumed that the clergy, proposed and successfully selected by religious organizations, will be contractually employed to the positions in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. They belong to the religious personnel and will have the status of military priests (chaplains) with respective rights.

To organize the activities of military priests (chaplains), their overall support, accounting and reporting, it is expected that the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine will establish the main department of a relevant profile. The subdivisions of chaplaincy services will also be set up.

Pursuant to the Regulations, a military priest (chaplain) shall be a citizen of Ukraine, who complies with the following requirements:
  • is a priest of a religious organization represented in the Council for Pastoral Care of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine;
  • has at least three years of experience as a priest;
  • is recommended by the head of a religious organization to provide services to the military personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine;
  • has been successfully trained in the basics of military education, has completed the military humanitarian and psychological training and has been issues relevant certificates;
  • has completed religious studies;
  • has good command of the state language, which is Ukrainian;
  • observes the Code of a military priest (chaplain).
The document also regulates mechanism of relations between chaplains and military commanders, as well as the rights and duties of military priests.

As the IRF reported early, the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations has repeatedly stressed in recent years the necessity to “establish the military chaplaincy (pastoral care) in the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other military units.”

For this purpose on November 10, 2008, representatives of the denominations, whose believers serve in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Defense on cooperation on pastoral care. Its mission is the joint actions and taking practical steps aimed at gradual implementation of an effective system of pastoral care in the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the service of military clergymen (chaplains).

In 2009, the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine established the Council for Pastoral Care. In April 2011, the Decree of the Ministry of Defense approved the Concept of Pastoral Care in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, drawn up with the participation of churches and religious organizations.
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