Allegedly, the reason for the project is to prevent the “spread of extremist religious ideology”. Meanwhile, various religious representatives are citing the lack of a proper consultative process and of clear terminology.
Newsroom (October 2, 2020 8:13 pm Gaudium Press) — Leading officials of the Catholic Church in Russia are warning against changes in legislation, including a number of restrictions on the clergy. Priests who have studied abroad, for example, are expected to repeat their studies at a Russian university.
“Like other denominations, we find it absurd to talk about re-certifying priests who are already in service and having to send our Archbishop back to the seminary for a course in Russian history and spirituality,” said Fr. Kirill Gorbunov, Vicar General of the Moscow Archdiocese.
“Of course, Catholic priests coming here from Poland, Italy or Spain need some kind of acculturation, and we don’t always have the opportunity to provide this. But this shouldn’t be regulated by the state,” the vicar told Catholic News Service.
Reforms on the 1997 Law
The changes could be introduced in the draft amendment to the Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations Act of 1997. Indeed, this bill would prohibit “clergymen receiving religious education abroad” from ministering in the Slavic country unless they obtain “re-certification within a Russian religious organization” and “receive additional professional education.”
“The motives behind this bill are obvious. Government and state feel a necessity to control the religious landscape,” said Fr. Gorbunov.
The reason for the project is allegedly to prevent the “spread of extremist religious ideology”. Meanwhile, various religious representatives are citing the lack of a proper consultative process and of clear terminology.
Fr. Gorbunov warned that many of the 270 Catholic parishes and missions in Russia could close if priests and religious, who already face problems in obtaining work permits, now have to be retrained in Russia.
“Certainly, some small churches and religious associations have distinctive spiritualities and sometimes strange ideas,” the Vicar said. “But this isn’t true of the Catholic Church, whose education system is standardized and regulated, and includes the same seminary programs across the world. No one has anything to fear from how our clergy are trained.”
The Russian Orthodox have supported the project, although they have proposed some amendments.
With information from Catholic News Service