UOC Legal Dept: No bans for us in law on chaplaincy but surprises possible

Протоиерей Александр Бахов. Фото: foma.in.ua

Archpriest Alexander Bakhov commented on the bill "On the service of military chaplaincy" adopted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

The chaplaincy law does not contain direct prohibitions for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, but there may be surprises during its implementation, said the head of the Legal Department of the UOC Archpriest Alexander Bakhov in a comment to the UOJ.

He explained that with the exclusion of Part 3 of Art. 7 from the text of the draft law, “there are no direct or indirect prohibitions or restrictions on chaplaincy service for priests of the UOC in it”.

However, the head of the Legal Department emphasized, at the stage of implementation of this law "there may be surprises".

According to him, the adopted law is not perfect, but better than its previous version, which the people's deputies proposed in 2018.

In an official clarification published on the website of the Legal Department of the UOC, the archpriest clarified: at the meeting on November 30, 2021, the deputies did not vote for the amendment with a discriminatory norm in relation to the believers of the UOC, performing military duties in the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

So, Part 3 of Article 7 said that “a person who is legally restricted access to associations, military units and subdivisions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the National Guard of Ukraine, other military formations formed in accordance with the laws of Ukraine and the State Border Service of Ukraine cannot be a military chaplain".

The editing was based on the so-called law on the forced renaming of the Church (No. 2662). Clause 5 of this law states that “it is not allowed to grant advantages or impose restrictions on the activities of a religious organization (association), which is part of the structure (is part of) a religious organization (association), the governing centre (administration) of which is located outside Ukraine in the state, which is recognized by law as such that it carried out military aggression against Ukraine and / or temporarily occupied part of the territory of Ukraine <...> except for restricting the access of priests, religious preachers, mentors of such a religious organization to military units and groups of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other military formations of Ukraine in places of their dislocation or other restrictions provided by law”.

The deputies did not support this amendment to the draft law on military chaplaincy.

As reported, on November 30, 2021, the Verkhovna Rada adopted in the second reading the bill "On the service of military chaplaincy", removing from the text the mention of the law on the aggressor country. Previous versions of the bill were of a pronounced confessional-biased and discriminatory nature, in fact, prohibiting the priests of the UOC to be military chaplains.

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