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Loss of Part-Time Prison Chaplains Not Just, Not Right

15 October 2012

Toronto: In a letter to the Minister of Public Safety, Vic Toews, the Moderator of The United Church of Canada has asked the minister to rescind the decision to eliminate part-time chaplaincy positions in Canada’s prisons.

“Your decision to not renew part-time contracts with faith communities for the provision of chaplaincy services with Correctional Service Canada (CSC) will essentially eliminate chaplaincy services for non-Christians,” writes the Right Rev. Gary Paterson in his letter to Toews. “This is not just; this is not right.”

Paterson’s letter notes that while it is true that volunteers are an essential part of chaplaincy services in CSC, the spiritual care and guidance provided by trained and dedicated chaplains is work that cannot simply be handed over to “volunteers.” He explains that chaplains’ activities include providing a “visible presence” to those within the institution, including times of crisis intervention; leading worship services and officiating at sacraments; offering religious education and pastoral care; developing community involvement; and facilitating the activities offered by volunteers.

“Spiritual care is a basic human need and can be an important part of the healing and rehabilitation process for offenders—this is true for Christians, and for those of other faiths,” writes Paterson.

Read the full text of the Moderator’s letter [PDF: 2 pp/95 KB].

For further information:

  • Mary-Frances Denis
    Program Coordinator, Media and Public Relations
    The United Church of Canada
    Tel: 416-231-7680 ext. 2016
    Toll-free: 1-800-268-3781 ext. 2016
    E-mail: Mary-Frances Denis
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