Catholics angered by Constitutional Court ruling on dismissal from conscription

P.Čilinsko nuotr.

Kęstutis Smilgevičius, secretary general of the Lithuanian Conference of Bishops, told BNS that military service is at odds with the calling of clergy.

“Purely because of his calling, a clergyman cannot shed someone else’s blood. He serves people in other ways and cannot carry a gun. This is impossible,” said the priest.

According to canon law, as military service is inconsistent with the position of clergymen, clergymen and candidates cannot perform voluntary military duty without permission of their ordinary.

In Smilgevičius’ words, all Christian countries envisage exceptions for clergymen to skip military service.

“This is alien to the status of clergymen,” he said.

The priest said clergymen also could not do alternative military service, even if it is civilian.

“Civilian service is nothing else than a replacement of military service, therefore, it is in essence the same military service,” said Smilgevičius.

According to the ruling, the legal provision that exempts clergy of Lithuania’s traditional religious communities recognized by the state from military duty runs counter to the country’s Organic law.

Two judges in the case handed down their separate opinion.

The Constitutional Court was approached by a Vilnius court hearing a claim from a Jehovah witness against the military’s refusal to dismiss him from military service.

According to the latest census of 2011, 77 percent of Lithuanians identified themselves as Roman Catholic.

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