Due to difficulties experienced by some married priests in their family life, the following decisions were taken at the April 4, 2019 session of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Russian Orthodox Church takes steps to address family problems of married clergy
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“The Supreme Church Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, in its March 20, 2019 session, examined issues related to the preparation of seminarians, as well as other persons from their families. Difficulties that sometimes arise in the families of priests have also been considered. These topics were also examined on March 27, 2019, at the session of the Inter-Council Commission for Ecclesial Administration, Pastorate, and Organization of Ecclesial Life.

During the sessions of both the Supreme Church Council and the Commission, it has been noted that the number of problematic situations in families of clerics is immeasurably less than in secular society. Nevertheless, under the conditions of family crisis in the contemporary world, the families of the clergy must be more than ever examples for the laity. In this regard, the preparation of future clerics for family life and the formation of the clergy must be given special attention. The importance of the paternal attention of the diocesan bishops to the spiritual condition of the recently ordained priests, as well as the smooth running of their family life, and the daily well-being of the latter, has been underlined. In addition, after examining the questions of preparation for priesthood candidates, the Supreme Church Council pointed out that the important condition for access to the priesthood was the sufficient maturity of ordained persons, particularly in the case of single candidates.

The Holy Synod decided:

  1. To draw the attention of diocesan hierarchs to the importance of giving paternal archpastoral care and spiritual support to members of the clergy, especially in the first years after ordination.
  2. With regard to the priesthood ordination of married persons:
  3. to recommend to the archpastors special caution when ordaining candidates with less than a year’s experience in family life, as well as those whose wives having only a short experience in ecclesial life.
  4. to consider it useful that in dioceses where such a practice has not yet been introduced, the diocesan hierarch or a priest appointed by him, conduct a preparatory pastoral conversation with the candidate’s wife, prior to the ordination of her husband to the priesthood.
  5. With regard to the preparation for family life of ecclesiastical schools students:
  6. to entrust to the Russian Orthodox Church Educational Committee the introduction of an optional course on the meaning of family life and its practical aspects, in the seminary curriculum.
  7. to consider, as a compulsory part of the educational process in ecclesiastical schools, regular meetings of seminarians with experienced priests who are members of the married clergy.
  8. to draw the attention of the ecclesiastical schools management to the opportunity for married seminarians to have the possibility to live with their families.
  9. to recommend to the Russian Orthodox Church Education Committee to apply in academies and seminaries the practices already existing in certain ecclesiastical schools and that were discussed at the session of the Supreme Church Council.
  10. to consider as important the discussion of issues related to the formation of young clerics, as well as those concerning the family life of the clergy, during the courses for the improvement of the formation of bishops that are provided by the Chancellery of the Moscow Patriarchate. And also in the works of the Inter-Council Commission for Ecclesial Administration, Pastorate, and Organization of Ecclesial Life.
  11. With regard to the priestly ordination of single persons, to remind hierarchs of the need for the special examination of candidates for ordination, and also of the following:
  12. a) in accordance with the decision of the 2011 Assembly of Bishops, the ordination of such persons is allowed only when they have reached the age of 30 (“On the ordination of single men who are not monks, paragraph 2. The same rule applies to rassophore candidates, as long as they are not yet monks (see section 6.3 of the Prescriptions for Monasteries and Monasticism, adopted by the 2017 Assembly of Bishops).
  13. b) that in accordance with the prescriptions of the 2000 and 2017 Assemblies of Bishops concerning the taking of the monastic “little habit” of persons who are not students in ecclesiastical schools, and consequently for their ordination to the priesthood, the minimum age of 30 years has been set (see section 6.4 of the Prescription for Monasteries and Monasticism).”

Source in Russian

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About the Author

Emma Cazabonne

Emma Cazabonne

Beside an anthology on Cistercian texts, Emma Cazabonne has translated and published articles on Cistercian spirituality, the Middle Ages, and Orthodoxy. She converted to Orthodoxy in 2008. Her husband is an Orthodox priest. If you are interested in having your book translated into French, she can be contacted here https://wordsandpeace.com/contact-me/

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