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Priestly old Believers or Popovtsy are those Old Believers who in principle consider such churches who have adopted the ritual observations rejected by the Old Believers to be schismatic, but not necessarily heretic. All Old Believers consider the practices of the post-Nikonitan Russian Church and other similar churches to have a ritual observance alien to what they consider truly Orthodox. However, the priestly Old Believers do consider it possible to receive "new ritualists" with myrrhon, since Priestly Old Believers discern between heretics and schismatics. As a consequence of the fact that some Priests never accepted the ritual changes and had kept myrrhon consecrated before the schism, which could be mixed with olive oil, the Priestly Old Believers received "nikonitans" with myrrhon and sometimes also got the opportunity to receive Priests and finnally also Metropolit Ambrosios of Sarajevo, which enabled them to establish an episcopal hierarchy.

Priestly Old Believers do, up to this, day receive "nikonitans" who have been properly baptized with myrrhon, whereas the priestless always baptize converts including priestly Old Believers.

Some priestly Old Believers accepted the "edinover" Church which is a branch of the established Russian Church using the pre-Nikon rite.

But the majority of Priestly Old Believers never accepted this, since they consider the post-Nikon Church to be schismatic and thus not Orthodox, although not necessarily heretic.

On dogmatic issues Priestly Old Believers differ only slightly from "conservative" nikonitans. One difference is that Old Believers always baptize converts from the roman catholic "church" since this church is considered heretic.