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Challenges of prison ministry: an ecumenical perspective

September 25, 2012 ·  , http://www.news.va/en/news/challenges-of-prison-ministry-an-ecumenical-perspe?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=catholiclisa

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(Vatican Radio) IPCA, the International Prison Chaplains’ Association, is an ecumenical organisation set up in the mid 1980s to support those working with some of society’s most marginalised people. Whatever their crimes or length of sentence, prisoners are often seen as the least deserving of our care, excluded, forgotten, and at times barely even considered as human beings.

Yet in the Bible we’re reminded by Jesus himself of the importance of visiting those behind bars and in recent years, Popes have regularly visited Rome’s penitentiaries to bring the Gospel message there….

“It’s in Matthew 25 that we should treat those in prison as the presence of Christ with us”
Rev Bill Cave has been in prison ministry for the past 17 years. He currently serves as secretary and vice chairman of IPCA Europe, which will be helping to organise a global conference in Sydney in 2015.

“I think the role of chaplain is firstly a non-judgemental presence…..to accept human beings as they are, to encourage personal development and ensure proper religious provision, not only from the Church of England but also from Catholic and other faith colleagues…..

Inter-Christian cooperation is well established but there’s been big developments in interfaith work in recent years…
Virtually everyone I’ve met is grateful for the opportunity to talk about themselves with the presumption of confidentiality…”

It’s the greatest priviledge as a chaplain when prisoners come into chapel and it’s a humbling experience to see hands…in front of you seeking the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, knowing what awful things these hands may have done to other human beings…..”

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