UGCC Issues Instructions for Behavior of Priests during Elections
The Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church approved on April 4 “Instructions on the Behavior of the Clergy during Political Election Campaigns.” The authors were prompted to issue the document in response to the behavior of clergy during the parliamentary electoral campaign of 2012.
“The signs that came from the UGCC faithful and other citizens, publications in the media, and our own observations prompted the bishops to issue this document to address the issue of the clergy’s involvement in social and political processes, particularly in the context of electoral processes,” the authors explain.
The document states that a priest is strictly prohibited from being part of a political party, from distributing in church or in the church yard campaign materials of candidates, parties, or political blocs, from campaigning for someone, and from openly expressing their political views in private conversations with believers.
The instructions do not cover all possible circumstances or situations that may occur in the context of an election. It only covers the common norms and describes the most common cases, describing the rules of conduct for the clergy.
The UGCC noted that the aim is to outline the place and role of the church and its ministers in the political and social processes in the light of the social doctrine of the Catholic Church, while offering pastoral guidance on the specific behavior of the clergy during election campaigns.
“The goal of the instructions is on the one hand to ensure the smooth implementation of the church’s mission in the world, and on the other hand to prevent the involvement of the church in the electoral process and the abuse of its authority for the selfish ends of individual candidates or political parties during election campaigns,” reads the document.