Clergymen of various denominations have been providing spiritual support to the military since the beginning of the war in the East. They conduct worship services at the forefront mostly on a voluntary basis. The National Guard introduces military chaplaincy service that officially regulates the presence of clergy in military units.
On February 20, the National Guard of Ukraine introduces military chaplaincy service. The clergy of various denominations can get a job in the National Guard as employees, under an employment contract, and work in the rear or in the front-line area military units.
What is chaplaincy service?
Service for military clergy of the National Guard of Ukraine will be responsible for chaplaincy service at the central level, and officers on military clergy in territorial offices – regionally. The National Guard introduces 44 positions of military priests.
Oleksandr Izdebskyy, Colonel, Chief of Military Clergy of the National Guard of Ukraine, said that temples would be built in the territories of military units. They also plan to create mobile churches – for the combat zone.
Chaplain for all denominations
“The chaplain who comes to the National Guard should be a priest for all: the military unit will consist of the faithful of different denominations. NGU cannot afford to have chaplains of different denominations in each military unit. Therefore, the priests must be very tolerant and considerate in their attitude to all faiths,” noted Archpriest Lubomyr, deputy head of the Department of the Patriarchal Curia of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church on pastoral care issues of military formations of Ukraine.
Result for servicemen
Today volunteer 67 priests are working in the Natioanl Guard on a voluntary basis, most of them – in the ATO area. According to the clergy, their presence really helps our servicemen. “Reality has shown that the presence of military priest, chaplain or pastor has a positive effect on morale of the team, serviceman and his combat capability,” noted Metropolitan Cherkasskyi and Chyhyrynskyi Ioan, head of the Synodal management of military clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
“Many servicemen who start out for the ATO zone are non-believers or indirect believers. When they find themselves in the combat zone, almost one hundred per cent of them become believers and contact priests,” informed Archpriest Ivan, deputy chairman of the Synodal management of military clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, authorized person for cooperation with the Department of the National Guard of Ukraine.
Priests who will be working in the uniformed services will take special training courses before. Now the religious structures provide such training. “Priests take tactical medicine courses. They are provided with a military first aid kit and know how to use it, know how to pick up the wounded from the battlefield and behave in a minefield,” informed Archpriest Ivan. They are also trained to work with soldiers before and after the fight, startle them out of their traumatic psychological states. These classes are conducted in collaboration with psychologists of the Bogomoletz Institute of Physiology, Defense Ministry and General Staff.