Russian Orthodox Church settles $11,500 debt with prayers; Legal decision a 'historic first'

Source: Lawyer Herald

February 13, 2016


A Russian regional court has moved for the settlement of case involving the Orthodox Church. The court ruled that the church diocese can repay a portion of its outstanding debt to an engineering firm through prayers.

A local Orthodox Church diocese in the city of Nizhny Novgorod owes an accumulated debt of $11,500 to construction company Era. According to BBC, the church contracted the company to design a heating system for one of its buildings.

Era instigated the legal action after the Russian Orthodox Church failed to pay the remaining $3,244 it owed to the construction company. The church was also required to indemnify Era in the amount of $817 for fines and legal fees, New York Post reported.

In a surprising turn of events, both parties agreed on a pre-trial settlement in which the church's payables were cancelled out in exchange for prayers for the health of claimants Ivan Arsenyev and Sergei Lepustin. It turned out that the owners of Era are believers of the faith.

The church was also asked to pray for their families and for their well-being in their endeavors.

Legal experts have hailed the decision a "historic first for Russia."

The legal department of the diocese was surprised by the claimants' proposal. It was stated that the owners of the construction company were the ones who "drew up the wording" of the settlement.

The settlement does not require other conditions for compliance. According to Andrei Lepustin, Era's sales manager, the owners do not intend on checking how the prayers are being carried out.

"We all respect the diocese and we are all Orthodox believers," Lesputin said. "It'll be on their conscience if they don't, but we trust them and have already felt the fruits of their prayers, as prosperity indicators for both the company and its employees are growing."

Business Standard reported that despite its peculiarity, the court's decision is completely legal and binding upon the parties. The decision, which was rendered in October, does not violate any law.

Boris Falikov of the State University of Humanities in Moscow explained that while it appears "abnormal" in the view point of other religions, it is a common practice for the Russian Orthodox Church to receive financial donations in return for prayers.

Lawyer Herald

14 февраля 2016 г.

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