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Russian Church not demanding equalizing of religious, secular marriages

"The Russian Orthodox Church is not pondering the issue at present," a church spokesman said

MOSCOW, October 17. /TASS/. Russian Orthodox Church is not pondering at present the problem of legal equalizing of religious marriages, which are solemnized by the Church, to the secular marriages registered at Vital Records Offices under Russian legislation, a senior Church official said on Tuesday.

Media reports said earlier the deputy of the State Duma lower house of parliament, Vladimir Sysoyev was drafting amendments to the Family Code, which would give weddings in a church a legal status equal with that of civilian marriages in terms of rights and civilian duties.

"The Russian Orthodox Church is not pondering the issue at present," said Dr. Vladimir Legoida, the director of Moscow Patriarchate’s department for communications between the Church and society.

"No one has held consultations with us or if they have been held, then I don’t know anything about them," he said. "Yet it’s clear this initiative will require sizable changes if they adopt it, the changes going far beyond the issuance of registration documents."

Dr. Legoida recalled that the Orthodox Church had the function of registering marriages before the Bolshevik Revolution of November 1917 but he said the Church was firmly embedded in the system of government agencies then, while the Russian Federation is a secular state nowadays.

"A wedding in a church is a self-sufficient act, a religious sacrament which is so important for the Christian believers that it doesn’t require confirmation in any other sphere or organization," he said. "At the same time I’d like to call attention to the fact the Church recognizes the marriages registered by the state in accordance with the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church."

"In other words, the Church treats the people, whose marriage has been registered by the state, as a family," Dr. Legoida said. "They may be a family without the special Church blessing but still a family."

In line with the practice that has taken shape in the Russian Church, a priest may ask the people who would like to get wedded if their marriage has been registered at a Vital Records Office. After the sacrament, he issues a certificate to the newly wedded couple containing their names, the church where wedding took place and his own name.