Loss of Part-Time Prison Chaplains Not Just, Not Right, says United Church Moderator

For Immediate Release
Monday, October 15, 2012

Loss of Part-Time Prison Chaplains Not Just, Not Right, says United Church Moderator

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.

The full text of the Moderator’s letter is available on The United Church of Canada’s website:
< href="http://www.united-church.ca/files/communications/news/releases/121015_letter.pdf" target="display">News Release re: Prison Chaplains

For further information:
Mary-Frances Denis
The United Church of Canada
416-231-7680 ext. 2016
1-800-268-3781 ext. 2016