On Monday the 5th and Tuesday the 6th of December, Moscow Theological Academy hosted the 2nd Seminar of the Society of Canon Law Teachers & Researchers, which was combined with a specialized advanced training program in Topical Problems of Teaching & Studying Canon Law Disciplines.
The event was organized by the Educational Committee of the Russian Orthodox Church, Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox University of the Humanities (STOUH), and the specialized Department of Church Practical Disciplines at the Moscow Theological Academy.
The seminar opened with a welcoming address by Archpriest Maxim Kozlov, chairman of the Educational Committee and Rector of Sts. Cyril & Methodius Institute of Postgraduate Studies.
The first day of the seminar included presentations on current issues in the application of canon law sources. Under this topic, the following presentations were given, accompanied by lively discussion:
- Drafts and Recent Documents Developed by the Inter-Conciliar Assembly of the Russian Orthodox Church (Very Rev. Assoc. Prof. Alexander Zadornov, Head of the Department of Church Practical Disciplines, Moscow Theological Academy).
- Comparative Description of the Current Law of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church (Very Rev. Prof. Vladislav Tsypin).
- Problems of Teaching the History of the Sources of Canon Law (Archpriest Dimitry Pashkov, Senior Lecturer, Department of General and Russian Church History and Canon Law, STOUH).
- Legislation of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and Churchwide Legislation (Protodeacon Andrei Psarev, Professor of Russian Church History and Canon Law, Head of the Bachelor’s Program at Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary, Jordanville).
At the end of the first day, there was a roundtable discussion on Issues of Supervising and Examining Student Theses in Canon Law Disciplines, moderated by Archpriest Alexander Zadornov.
The application of law in the life of the Church was discussed on the second day of the seminar as part of the following presentations:
- The Relationship between the Church and Society as a Subject of Canon Law (Natalia Sergeevna Semenova, Assistant Professor, Moscow Theological Academy Department of Practical Church Disciplines)
- The Theory of the Primacy of Honor and Authority: History and Modernity (Abbot Dionysius (Shlyonov), Dean of Postgraduate Studies, Moscow Theological Academy)
- Contemporary Issues of Matrimonial Law (Very Rev. John Lapidus, Associate Professor at the Department of Practical Church Disciplines, Moscow Theological Academy)
- Innovations in Legislation on Religious Organizations (Abbess Xenia (Chernega), Head of the Legal Department of the Moscow Patriarchate)
- Legal Immunity of the Clergy: Problems and Prospects for Development (Rev. Vitaly Kollantai, JD, Vice-Rector for Educational Work of Tomsk Theological Seminary, Associate Professor of the Department of Legal Disciplines of Tomsk State Pedagogical University)
- Updating the System of Economic Knowledge as Part of Church Practical Disciplines (Dr. Alexander I. Shalygin, Associate Professor, Tomsk Theological Seminary)
The event concluded with the adoption of a final document, which, in particular, noted the need to raise the professional level and involvement of participants in the Society of Teachers of Canon Law and Church Legal Disciplines in the current agenda of teaching canon law disciplines. In order to achieve this goal, the following tasks must be accomplished:
- creating a database of theses and doctoral dissertations on canon law subjects within the Russian Orthodox Church;
- consolidating research in the field of canon law;
- creating a pool of reviewers and opponents for master’s and doctoral theses in canon law (there are currently serious difficulties in this area);
- holding regular conferences, roundtables, and thematic discussions on current issues of canon law – both theoretical ones and those related to the current canonical agenda;
- preparing reference and analytical information on emerging issues in the field of canon law;
- organizing and conducting, on behalf of the Teaching Committee, courses to improve the qualifications of teachers of canon law.
Participation in Society is voluntary, but imposes on the participant the obligation to participate actively in the Society’s activities. Participation can be at a personal (individual teacher/researcher) or collective level (academic institution or a theological educational organization in part or in its entirety).
The Society of Teachers of Canon Law and Church Legal Disciplines was founded on November 1, 2018, at Moscow Sretensky Theological Seminary, through a decision of teachers of church legal disciplines during professional development courses for pastoral training teachers. Since then, the Society has operated as a social media group for the exchange of relevant information in the area of canon law. There is now an urgent need to institutionalize Society to achieve the goals listed below. The Educational Committee of the Russian Orthodox Church is charged with overall leadership of the society and appoints a Secretary of the Society for organizational matters.
At present, there are several organizations for the study of church law – in the field of judicial practice (the Barsov Society of St. Petersburg Theological Academy), theory and application of canon law (the Justinian Readings at the Moscow Theological Academy), and the legal and economic activities of canonical subdivisions of the Russian Orthodox Church (Church Law, Economics, Pedagogy, and Psychology Laboratory at Tomsk Theological Seminary).