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Army chaplaincy services: legal framework

The Act of 17 May 1989 on guarantees of freedom of conscience and religion determines that Churches and other religious organizations can administer religious services for people serving in the military (Article 19). It is also guaranteed that people serving in the army can, in accordance with their religion, participate in religious activities and rites, as well as fulfill religious duties and celebrate religious feasts (Article 4).

The Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and the Lutheran Church have their own organized structures of chaplaincy in the army. Their military chaplains are professional soldiers paid by the State.

Catholic Chaplaincy
According to the Concordat (Article 16 para. 2), soldiers have the right to freely participate in Holy Mass on Sundays and feast days, as far as it does not collide with their important professional duties. The head of the military Ordinariate (Bishop) is appointed by the Holy See. Basic organisational units of the Ordinariate are military parishes, where service is administered by military chaplains.

Orthodox Chaplaincy
According to Act of 14 July 1991 on the relationship of the State to the Polish autocephalous Orthodox Church (Articles 21-25), the head of the military Ordinariate of the Orthodox Church is appointed by the Minister of National defense after the presentation of his candidature by the Holy Council of Bishops. In every diocese, at least one military chaplain is appointed. Depending on the needs of military chaplaincy, it is possible to set up military parishes. Soldiers on active military service have the right to participate in Holy liturgy outside the territory of the army unit on Sundays and Orthodox feasts if there is an Orthodox church nearby and as far as it does not collide with important professional duties.

Evangelical Chaplaincy
According to the Act of 13 May 1994 on the relationship of the State to the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession (Art. 29-31), the head of the Evangelical chaplaincy (the Chief Chaplain of the Army) is appointed by the Minister of National defense in agreement with the Consistory of the Church. On the basis of separate agreements between religious authorities, the Evangelical chaplaincy extends its activity to members of the Reformed Evangelical Church, the Evangelical Methodist Church, the Baptist Church and the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

D 5 April 2013    APiotr Stanisz

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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