Ukrainian Parliament passes bill on military chaplaincy
At the plenary session on Thursday, June 6, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted in the first reading Bill No.10244-1 on military chaplaincy. 227 MPs voted for the respective decision, Cerkvarium reports.
The National Security and Defence Committee will now prepare amendments for the second reading. It should be noted that so far the chaplaincy service has not been regulated by law. The only document on the basis of which priests could legally serve in military formations, was the Decree of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine signed by Arseniy Yatsenyuk in June, 2014. The new bill proposes to establish the concept of military chaplaincy in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the State Special Transport Service, the National Guard of Ukraine, the State Border Service of Ukraine, the State Service of Special Communication And Information Protection of Ukraine.
The main purpose of the bill is to ensure the exercise of the right to freedom of conscience for those who are limited in its exercise because of the nature of service.
Priests will be employed in military formations on the basis of contracts and will render religious services. That is, they will not be military, but only employees. It is proposed to conduct an anonymous survey to determine the religious affiliation of soldiers. A chaplain will represent that denomination to which the majority of the military in the unit belong.
Representatives of other faiths have the opportunity to invite a volunteer priest for religious minorities. To coordinate joint actions, it is proposed to create an inter-religious body that will address all urgent needs. The draft law clearly delineated the powers of priests and the military and prohibits interference in each other's activities. The partner model of relations is also proposed, when the state is the customer of services of religious nature, and religious organizations are the providers. The introduction of chaplaincy will not require additional expenditures from the budgets because it is planned to implement it within the existing funding for defense.
As reported, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine considered four bills on military chaplaincy: 10244 – by MPs of Ukraine Unguryan, Nightingale, Berezyuk and Lutsenko, 10244-1-by MPs of Ukraine Bilozir, Rychkova, Tymoshenko, Unguryan, Gerasimov, Mamchur, Yelensky and Yevtushok, 10279 – by the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, 10335 – by MPs of Ukraine Parubiy, Gerashchenko, Gerasimov, Burbak, Bilozir, Rychkova, Ionova, Lutsenko, Knyazhytskyy, Vynnyk, Tymoshenko, Lyashko and Hopko.