The Moscow Local Council of 1917-18 was perhaps the last such "local council" of a major autocephalous Church which touched upon the question of the remarriage of clergy. It supports the canonical tradition of the Church and it is sympathetic to those who choose such a step, making every effort to keep them within the Church and making use of their experience. In view of the interest expressed on the subject recently, the Council's decision is presented for your information. -A.S.


The Sacred Council of the Russian Orthodox Church


19 July (1 August) 1918

The Sacred Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, bearing in mind that a petition for permitting sacred ministers to enter into a second marriage has been submitted to the Supreme Church Administration and to the Sacred Council, decided:

  1. The prohibition for widowed and divorced sacred ministers to enter into a second marriage is to be observed without change, based on the Apostolic instructions (I Tim. III:2, 12; Titus I:6), the Church canons (Canon 3 of Trullo and others), the ideals of Christian marriage and on the preeminent understanding of the responsibilities of the sacred ministry.

  2. The utmost relief for the lot of the sacred ministers who have lost their wives and who remain loyal to their sacred calling should be the subject of permanent attention and active concern both on the part of Church authorities, having at its disposal various means for this (the assignment to appropriate parishes, or the opportunity for further studies and the introduction to various aspects of vital Church activities) as well as on the part of colleagues in Church service.

  3. Sacred ministers, unable to maintain the single state as widowers or those who were divorced, are not to be deprived from functioning as lower clerics following their unimpeded release from Holy Orders, as well as any type of Church educational, training, administrative and managerial service in Church institutions, with the exception of responsibilities which may be specifically excluded by decrees of the Supreme Church Authority, or which are required to be carried out in connection with pastoral responsibility.

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Modified 4/9/98-