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Russian Church Synod reiterates ban for priests to take part in elections

October 05, 2012, 1:00 UTC+3

The document reiterates a prohibition for the priests to join any political parties

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MOSCOW, October 5 (Itar-Tass) — Holy Synod of the Russian Church, which met in session in Moscow Thursday under the guidance of Patriarch Kirill I, reiterated a prohibition for clergymen to take part in the elections of agencies of state power except for the cases where abstaining from the elections may pose a danger for the Russian Orthodox Church as such.

A resolution issued by the Synod says a clergyman has the right to run for an elected secular office “should this be needed for counteraction to dissenters or the forces representing other religious denominations.”

The document affirms the power of the Synod to decide on the lists of possible candidates.

It reiterates a prohibition for the priests to join any political parties.

The resolution specifies the procedure of last year’s ruling of the Council of Bishops that banned the free participation of clerics in the work of elected agencies of state power.

Deacon Andrei Kurayev, the holder of a PhD and a widely acclaimed Russian Orthodox publicist, told Itar-Tass the Russian Church has reaffirmed the age-old tradition of Eastern Orthodoxy preventing the clerics from engagement in the struggle led by political parties and, consequently, in elections.

“The phase ‘exceptional circumstances’ is a footnote-like reservation,” he said. “It denotes the situations where the overt foes of the Church use elections as a mechanism and as a political rostrum for escapades against the Church and the limits of regular civic polemics turn out too narrow for defending positions of Eastern Orthodox Christians, since the Church doesn’t have broad access to the media.”

“If a situation of this kind emerges, a cleric may participate in elections then,” Dr Kurayev said.

As an instance of this, he cited the political situation in Ukraine.

“There are concrete parties and political factions in that country, the programs of which contain bluntly formulated provisions on fighting with the Russian Orthodox Church and that’s why it’s very important to have the people there who would be able to present the position of our Church to lawmakers from the parliamentary rostrum in an appropriate manner,” Dr Kurayev said.

In Russia itself, Orthodox priests will not be running for elections in the medium term, since the situations putting the Church in danger are scarcely in the cards, he said.

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