Which professions incompatible with priesthood? Russian Church to discuss

Moscow, January 17, 2017

Photo: https://ru.pinterest.com/datricel/eastern-orthodox-faith/ Photo: https://ru.pinterest.com/datricel/eastern-orthodox-faith/

All dioceses of the Russian Church will soon be receiving the document “Professions compatible and incompatible with the priesthood,” intended for broad discussion, writes the Church’s official site.

The draft document was created by order of an inter-council commission dated January 28, 2015. To discuss and comment on the document is possible on the official site of the Inter-Council presence, Bogoslov.ru, and the Inter-Council’s official blog.

The draft document notes that “conditions of modern life sometimes raise the question of reconciling the priesthood and secular professions,” reports the online journal Foma. The following professions are suggested as incompatible:

  • Military service and “generally any service, even in private corporations, involving the carrying and use of weapons”;
  • Civil service in executive or judicial bodies;
  • Medical activities connected with the shedding of human blood, especially of surgeons (the example of St. Luke of Crimea being an exception “connected with the circumstances of the time” according to the document) and other medical positions.
    Here it is noted that “the ruling bishop may sanction the medical or paramedical activity of a cleric if it is able to bear good fruits”;
  • Personal businesses, especially in banking, credit, and insurance;
  • Work in establishments of dubious reputation, such as gambling houses, casinos, etc.;
  • Professional sports;
  • Acting, dancing, stage singing.

Comments on the document will be received up through May 2, 2017.


JJ1/19/2017 7:21 pm

Are the Canons immutable? And “letting of blood” would seem to imply the intention to take life, not to save it. When a surgeon “lets blood” he / she intends to save life.

It appears that the canons are not immutable in the case of the marital status of bishops. Originally a bishop was forbidden to put away his wife, then at a later date expected on elevation to bishop to separate from his wife, then at a still later date bishops were expected to be monastics / unmarried (widowed or celibate). Here are some of the canons:

Canon V of the Canons of the Twelve Apostles (Apostolic Canons):Let not a bishop, presbyter, or deacon, put away his wife under pretence of religion; but if he put her away, let him be excommunicated; and if he persists, let him be deposed.

Canon XII:Moreover, this also has come to our knowledge, that in Africa and Libya, and in other places the most God-beloved bishops in those parts do not refuse to live with their wives, even after consecration, thereby giving scandal and offence to the people.

Canon XLVII:The wife of him who is advanced to hierarchical dignity, shall be separated from her husband by their mutual consent, and after his ordination and consecration to the episcopate she shall enter a monastery situated at a distance from the abode of the bishop, and there let her enjoy the bishop's provision.
Editor1/19/2017 1:28 pm
One has to note that the guidelines for priest in Russia are not going to be entirely applicable to Orthodox Churches in other countries, where different daily realities are encountered. Being a priest in Russia is a full time job in itself, while many priests in Western countries also have secular jobs. Also, this document presents guidelines rather than canons. However, there are canons governing eligibility for the priesthood that forbid, for example, holding public offices such as judge or king/emperor, and spilling blood.
Stefan1/18/2017 9:14 pm
Personal business? Then how about mandatory salaries and health benefits for clergy?
JJ1/18/2017 7:36 pm
At least one priest in the Russian Orthodox Church in Germany is a surgeon and has been serving his parish with great dedication for around 10 years. There must be other cases of priests who are in one of the excluded professions.

By tradition the apostle Luke was reputed to be a physician.

What is the definition of "personal business" in the above article (is this a mistranslation)?
Paul the apostle had a personal business - a tent-making business.

"Civil service in executive or judicial bodies" - this would imply that lawyers / barristers/ solicitors are excluded from priestly service.

Does all this mean that non-priestly members of the church are somehow "less holy" than a priest, and can practice the professions considered unsuitable for priests? Surely the standard of holiness is the same for all?

How can it be determined that an occupation contradicts the scriptures? On whose judgement?(Of course there are the obvious immoral examples - bur what about writing software for a credit institute - does this fall under "banking"?)
Anthony1/18/2017 5:09 pm
The medical professions thang stung me like a bit y'all. Like why is a surgeon who ''sheds blood'' by saving lives not worthy of the priesthood? Like why? I can understand an abortionist mass murderer but a normal surgeon doin' what they'ra supposedta be doin'? I assume nurses are blacklisted as well? And blood donor carers too. They ''shed'' loads of blood all the time. And since they shed blood, how long are they excluded from Communion for? Like soldiers - I assume it's one and the same thing. And why are soldiers excluded anyway, when they are fighting to defend their homeland - not saying that they necessarily should become priests but why do they get excluded from Holy Communion when they have fought defensive battles, and in many instances such as Russian soldiers fighting western backed terrorists for the protection of Christians and other vulnerables whom the west would like wiped out. Why should they be excluded? Why why oh why. Questions. Questions. Enquiring minds need to know.
Mr G1/18/2017 6:26 am
So Melissa.

What about Scientists - Biologists, Physicists, or any other scientific profession grounded in the principles of the Enlightenment, who are required to work within the boundaries of their various professional bodies which are sometimes pitted against Christian cosmology or paleoanthropology? Should a committed Christian candidate for the priesthood who happens to work in the field of Archeology (including the field of Archeology responsible for digging up ancient Christian manuscripts without which your Church would have otherwise had a much limited understanding of various texts such as the Old Testament), be excluded from priesthood notwithstanding personal opposition to the tenets of his/her Society or department which contradict Christian teaching?

Psychologists whose profession is grounded in the various schools of non-Christian/non-religious origins, psychologists and therapists who provide treatment for addiction etc. requiring the use of therapies pioneered by humanists/agnostics etc.?

Many other occupations can be added to the list of professions that would be excluded if your logic were to be taken further, and indeed it would ultimately lead to unwittingly falling into the trap of “serving two masters”.
Skip1/18/2017 3:11 am
I don't know how I feel about this. It seems the church is taking on a very Roman feel with these remarks. I would hope that a person that feels the calling to become a Priest would be welcomed. Especially those of us living in the US.
JJ1/17/2017 11:21 pm
Why would medical professions, which in almost all cases will involve the loss of some blood (eg through an injection or taking a blood sample) be considered incompatible with a priestly calling? After all the medical professions are dedicated to helping and healing people; a thoroughly Christian calling. This does not make sense.
John Dunn1/17/2017 10:47 pm
A man cannot serve two masters.
Melissa1/17/2017 7:22 pm
Anyone involved in the advancement or up keep of technology that promotes the agenda of the world in direct contradiction to the church's teachings. Anyone who is a professor of archeology, humanist, or paleo studies that contradict the creation events as told in the book of Genesis.
We are told not to serve two masters. Therefore, any occupation that contradicts scripture should be added to the 'no' list.
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