Medvedev signs decree for Priests deferring military service
9.10.12 22:43 By Daria Zagvozdina, edited by Robert Gally
Dmitry Medvedev delivered clergy from military
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has recently signed a decree given this summer by President Putin that would allow less priests to defer military service. The Prime Minister also underlined orders that all priests receive special training in order to serve as assistant to the commander in work with faithful soldiers.
According to the decree, the deferment will be given to only 150 people per year. Deferment will be made available upon requests made by religious organizations. Only those who hold positions in religious organizations are eligible to defer their service, but on the condition that all clergy be trained as chaplains.
Additionally the decree allows military chaplains already carrying out their duties to be deferred out of service. However, students of seminaries will be drafted into the army.
Earlier, priests of Russian Orthodoxy, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism were included in a similar decree up until 2008. Under that decree about 300 people were granted deferment. But in 2008 President Vladimir Putin canceled the order due to reduced service life of recruits. Putin's move angered the clergy whose representatives from the Cathedral "Church, State and Society," including 24 bishops, concluded that "such initiatives by the authorities show a misunderstanding by the political elite as to religious education and the Russian Orthodox Church as a whole in the promotion of morality in society." According to representatives, a to the country would receive much greater benefit from a priest serving in the army as a chaplain.
When Dmitry Medvedev became president, the situation began to change: in 2009, the assistant commander position was created in the army for work with faithful soldiers, or priests "who ministered to the faithful during off-duty time." In 2011, the military chaplains in the army were made equal to political officer positions, that is, they were able to educate soldiers and instruct "on morality." Despite Medvedev's initiative, there is still a 90% shortage of chaplains in the military.
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