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October 6, 2012

Russian Orthodox Clergy Allowed to Run in Secular Elections

October 5, 2012

The governing body of the Russian Orthodox Church has allowed clerics to run for elected office in government in the event of "dire ecclesiastical necessity."

"In the event of dire ecclesiastical necessity, in exceptional situations where action is needed against schismatic or non-Orthodox forces that are seeking to use elected office for fighting the Orthodox Church, the Holy Synod or the Synod of a self-governing Church will choose persons for participation in elections for bodies of state authority," the Holy Synod said in a resolution in Moscow on Thursday.

At the same time, a cleric will not be allowed to be a member of any political party even if he runs on a party ticket, the resolution said.

"A hierarch, cleric, monk or layman who is performing duties of obedience at a general ecclesiastical institution must in advance submit an application to the Patriarch and the Holy Synod or the Synod of a self-governing Church, explaining his reasons for seeking election to a legislative or executive body and state which non-Orthodox or schismatic groups are planning to use this body for action against the Orthodox Church," the document said.

An application for blessing for taking part in an election must be filed before the period when election campaigning is allowed by law.

"The hierarchy will enjoy the right to revoke their blessing in the event that the patriarch and Holy Synod or the Synod of a self-governing Church have decided that a cleric is pursing impermissible activities in the position to which he has been elected. In that case, the cleric who has been elected to a legislative or executive body of authority would be duty-bound to resign from his elected office," the resolution said.