eurel

Données sociologiques et juridiques sur la religion en Europe et au-delà

Tweeter Rss

Accueil > Portugal > Droit et religion > Dispositions > Aumônerie > Aumônerie militaire

Aumônerie militaire

During the Portuguese constitutional monarchy (1820-1910), religious (Catholic) assistance to the Armed Forces was offered by military chaplains. However, with the laicization programme of the First Republic (since 1910), the Catholic Church military chaplains were withdrawn from the military quarters and the chaplaincy was terminated.

With the Portuguese participation in World War I (1916), the republican government was pressed to accept some military (volunteer and non-paid) chaplains in the European theatres of war. In 1918, this religious assistance spread to Africa and started to include hospital assistance to war wounded. Military chaplains became military officials and, because of that, started to get paid as such. But, in the end of 1918, with the armistice, the priests that served the Armed Forces returned to their dioceses.

The Portuguese Second Republic (the New State, from 1933-1974) gradually reintroduced the Church in the Armed Forces. The Law n° 1:961, from 1937, on the recruitment and military service, established that Catholic priests and clerics would be compelled to military service, performing religious assistance roles to the Armed Forces. The Concordat of 1940, in its article 14, reinforced this principle. Besides, its article 18 even determined that military chaplains should be considered as army graduate officers, that religious assistance would not only be granted on theatres of war but also on colonial expeditions, and, more importantly, it would establish a specific military ordinary’s ecclesiastical jurisdiction (Ordinariato Castrense).

In spite of these regulations, lots of questions still emerged regarding salaries, religious assistance instruction, time of service, or the relation between military discipline and canon law. Thereat, in 1966 the Portuguese state promulgated the decree 47.188 where it proposed the structuring of religious assistance in the Armed Forces, namely due to the rise of military chaplains in Africa because of the colonial wars.

With decolonization and with the advent of the Portuguese third democracy (1974), there was a clear reduction in the number of chaplains. The decrees 310/75 and 11/79 tried to adapt the organic of the military ordinariate to the new situation. These decrees presented a broader scope of application, by determining that the military faithful of “non-catholic religions denominations” would have the right to religious assistance in the Armed Forces when “the number of military personnel justified it” (article 1/2). That idea would be reinforced by the law 11/89, on the status of military condition, establishing that religious assistance was guaranteed to the military that confessed a religion with “real expression in the country” (article 8/1). At that time, Catholicism was, at least nominally, utterly hegemonic.

This question of the extension of religious assistance has been discussed during the decade of 1990 with the decree 93/91, on the regulation of religious assistance in the Armed Forces, amended by the decree 54/97. These decrees tried to adjust military religious assistance to the new socio-religious context. They determined that the service of religious assistance in the Armed Forces could be extended, “through specific religious ministers and under conditions to be established, to the military faithful of non-Catholic religious denominations” (article 1/3).

Today, decree 251/2009 regulates the exercise of religious assistance in the Armed Forces and in security forces (the police), to the Catholic Church “in accordance with article 17 of the Concordat… and, to other religious denominations, according to article 13 of the Religious Freedom Law”. But the decree does so by “preserving the representativeness of churches and of religious communities rooted in the country”. Despite the representativeness criterion, all members of the armed and security forces, “notwithstanding their respective denomination”, have the right to religious assistance (article 3/1). All legally recognized churches and religious denominations are “free to assist members of the armed and security forces that request religious assistance”, as well as to practice their acts of worship (article 3/2). In order to do it, the churches and religious communities have to present to the Portuguese government a proposal of an agreement. That requirement is not necessary for religious institutions or communities that already have religious assistance guaranteed by specific legal norms (like the Catholic Church, through the Concordat) (article 3/4). The service of religious assistance has the following structure : a general chaplaincy, an interreligious organism that guarantees the regular exercise of assistance (it is supposed to have a chief chaplain for each denomination), and the religious assistance centers, divided between the Armed Forces and the security forces. There are also two recruitment systems for military chaplains : a volunteering regime and a contractual agreement regime (article 10/1). Civil chaplains can also be recruited, in accordance to two different systems : by an employment contract, full or part time, for a definite or indefinite period, or by a provision of services agreement, depending on how often religious assistance is needed. This is usually the case for religious minorities.

For further information :
- FALCÃO, Miguel, A Assistência Religiosa nas Forças Armadas e de Segurança, col. Lusitania Canónica, Lisboa : Universidade Católica Editora, 2008.
- FERREIRA, Januário T. M., “Assistência religiosa às Forças Armadas e de segurança”. In : SATURNINO, Manuel C. G. (coord.), Estudos Sobre a Nova Concordata : Santa Sé – República Portuguesa, 18 de Maio de 2004. Col. Lusitania Canónica (11), Lisboa : Universidade Católica, 2006, pp. 129-135.
- SEABRA, João, “Assistência religiosa nas prisões e hospitais”. In : SATURNINO, Manuel C. G. (coord.), Estudos Sobre a Nova Concordata : Santa Sé – República Portuguesa, 18 de Maio de 2004. Col. Lusitania Canónica (11), Lisboa : Universidade Católica, 2006, pp. 137-149.

22 décembre 2017