OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION OF CATHOLIC
PRISON PASTORAL CARE
The International Commission of Catholic Prison
Pastoral Care finds its roots in an international Congress, convoked on behalf
of the Secretary of State, by the future Pope Paul VI, in the Holy Year 1950 in
Rome with the participation of prison chaplains-general from many European
countries, the United States of America and Argentina.
In 1954 a second Congress took place in Fribourg in
Switzerland. After this congress
several meetings were held at irregular intervals. The purpose of these meetings was to support prison chaplains
and bring to the Church a greater awareness for Prison Pastoral Care.
In 1972, the third Congress was held in Rome. It became
obvious that continuity was needed. The
Commission required Statutes and a Charter.
In 1974, the "Internationale Kommission der
Katholischen Gefängnisgeistlichen (IKG)" was established in London and
Statutes were adopted in accordance with Swiss Civil Law.
In 1983 in Strasbourg a special Charter was adopted.
Other Congresses were subsequently held in Munich 1977, Madrid 1985,
Vienna 1987, all in Western Europe. In
1990, in Rome, Episcopal Conferences from Africa and South America joined the
Commission. In Bovendonk 1993,
Warsaw 1996 and Mexico 1999 the Commission saw membership grow in more than 100
countries over all the world.
At that time, the Commission really became the International Catholic
forum for Prison Pastoral Care.
During the Jubilee
Year 2000, the Executive Board, on
behalf of the Commission, applied for ecclesial recognition as Public Commission
of the Faithful. For this reason
its Statutes were adjusted and the name is "International Commission of
Catholic Prison Pastoral Care".
In the same year, the Commission was affiliated to the
United Nations as a Non Governmental Organization in special consultative
It is the central Mission of the Church to bring the
Good News of Christ to the whole world. In a clear evangelical attitude this
Commission will open up this appeal in a diverse prison world, by preserving and
promoting the dignity of the prison community, both residents and personnel, by
working for their integral human and religious development. No one can be
excluded from being a member of the human community.
Christ received all those who came to Him, whatever
their condition. He was “the
friend of publicans and sinners" (Lk 7:34).
Many other words in the bible speak about trespasses and forgiveness:
"Go in peace, and sin no more" (John 8:1-12); your brother should be
forgiven "not seven times, but seventy times seven" (Mt 18:22).
Christ doesn't teach us only by his words, but also by
his example: He came not to the righteous, but to the sinners (Mt 9: 13). He
encourages his followers to look for the lost sheep (Lk 15:4).
God is rich in mercy and love (Eph. 2:4) and it is the
duty of the Church to show compassion and mercy to those entrusted to its care.
Working with the prisoners should always be in conjunction with the
victim, but it excludes self-judgement and revenge.
The sentence should not lead to destruction, but to healing and
integration into the community (Hebr 12:13).
Remember the prisoners, as if You were in prison
yourself. Remember the victim, as
if You were one yourself (Hebr 13,3).
The Church endeavors to serve the people of God as
Jesus did, attentive to all but especially to the most needy with whom Jesus
identified himself. The community is the theological and sociological place
where pastoral care , including prison pastoral care, is exercised.
From the day when Jesus promised paradise to
"the good thief” to the day Pope John Paul II sent his papal letter
on prison pastoral care to the world,
the traditional practice of the Church, despite many shortcomings due to human
frailty and sinfulness, has been to take with all seriousness our Lord's words: "I
was in prison and you visited Me" (Mt 25:36).
This tradition has received support from the magisterium of the
Church, especially in recent years. The dogmatic constitution "Lumen
Gentium" and the pastoral constitution "Gaudium et Spes" were
followed by the papal encyclicals "Redemptor Hominis"(1978),"Dives
in Misericordia"(1980), "Evangelium Vitae" (1995) and “Novo
Millennio Eunte” (2000).They have much to say about the mission of the Church,
particularly to the marginalized, about the rights and dignity of every human
person and about the boundless love and mercy of God towards all.
The Commission finds its juridical foundation in
several important documents of the United Nations: the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights and the Standard Minimum Rules for Treatment of Prisoners, as well
as in documents of other international bodies
Art. 1. Name and nature
1. The International
Commission of Catholic Prison Pastoral Care is a
worldwide Association of country delegates for Catholic Prison Pastoral
Care, composed of clerical and lay persons.
2. The Commission is
governed by the present Statutes and what is not anticipated in them, the norms
of the Canon Law of the Catholic Church provide.
2. The legal seat
of the Commission is in Biltstraat 121, 3507 LA, Utrecht (Netherlands). The
Head Office and the mailing address are located in the country of the Secretary
3. The motto of
the Commission is: “Vinculum Unitatis” (“bound of unity”).
The logo of the Commission is two hands reaching out to each other, one
from behind prison bars, representing three crosses.
The fundamental objectives of the Commission are:
To awaken and encourage within the worldwide Church and society a greater
awareness of and sensitivity to the exercise of Prison Pastoral Care.
To animate the respective Episcopal Conferences and the Local Ordinary to
establish and further Prison Pastoral Care, which is the mission of the Church,
offering the best support.
To organize ongoing formation courses, study, current information and
meetings for prison pastoral agents and for members of the Commission.
To promote the humanization, revision and reform of the prison system
throughout the world.
5. Means and activities
To realize these
objectives, the Commission proposes the following:
Advise on the action of the prison pastoral care concerning the human and
spiritual development of prisoners.
Collaborate in the organization of activities on behalf of Prison
Pastoral Care agents and meetings for the exchange of experiences on the
regional and international level.
Represent and defend, should this prove necessary, the interests of the
Present and defend issues related to the ministry of prison pastoral care
before international and regional organizations, in collaboration with
Delegations or Commissions of the Catholic Church, whenever possible.
Publish newsletters, guidelines, documentation, etc.
Encourage all sectors of society, especially Catholic and other religious
groups as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), to pursue and defend
the respect for human rights within prisons.
Collaborate with international agencies and institutions which have
Delegate Member. A delegate
member is a person, appointed or recognized by the respective Episcopal
Conference and responsible for
Prison Pastoral Care. An Episcopal Conference may have only one Delegate per
Affiliate Member. All
persons involved in Catholic Prison Pastoral Care are eligible for Affiliate
Honorary Member. A person
may be named as an Honorary Member. Only
the Plenary Assembly may convey this honorary title.
It includes membership in
the Commission without the right to vote.
Patron. The Executive Board reserves the right to appoint notable persons
7. Rights of Members
1. Delegate members:
are members of the Plenary Assembly with both active and passive vote.
participate in the activities of the Commission.
The person nominated must exercise this right; however, in cases where an
impediment exists, the delegate must name a substitute.
present candidates for nomination to positions or responsibilities within
2. Affiliate Members:
Attend meetings of the Plenary Assembly without voting rights.
Avail themselves of the various services of the Commission.
Participate in the activities of the Commission.
Contribute their dues, as and when required.
The duties of the
delegate members are:
To participate actively in the work of the Commission and to assume
assigned responsibilities, if there is no reasonable excuse. Should a delegate
repeatedly not comply, the Executive Board will notify the Episcopal Conference
or delegating authority.
To inform the Secretary General in writing at least every three years
concerning the situation of Prison Chaplaincy in the country.
To pay the annual dues as established by the General Assembly.
2. The duty of the affiliate members is to contribute their
dues, as and when
9. Loss of Membership
A delegate member looses the membership when the corresponding Episcopal
Conference revokes the appointment or recognition.
An affiliate member looses the membership when the annual dues for three
successive years upon written request by the Treasurer are not paid
A member is dismissed by decision of the Executive Board if, in its
unanimous judgment, that member acts in a way that is totally contrary to the
objectives and interests of the Commission. The Executive Board will notify the
of Government and Juridical administration
Art. 10. The Plenary Assembly
The Plenary Assembly is the highest organ of the Commission. It is convoked and chaired by the President of the
The Assembly, by law, is normally convoked every three years.
It may also be convoked when the Executive Board so decides or when one
fifth of the delegate members request convocation.
The Assembly is convoked, in writing, by the President with a six months
notice in advance. The convocation
must also contain the agenda. The Plenary Assembly is chaired by the President,
the Vice-President or a person appointed by him. At the beginning of the
meeting, the President, after hearing the opinion of the Executive Board, will
appoint two secretaries to act at the service of the Secretary General.
The Assembly is composed of all members of the Commission, although only
delegates have the right to vote.
The Assembly has the right to create new Regions, as and when required.
11. Competencies of the Plenary Assembly
Besides all competencies
included in the Statutes, the Plenary Assembly has the authority to:
Elect the President and Vice-President of the Commission. Both candidates
should be proposed according to article 14 of the present Statutes.
Elect the members of the Executive Board, who represent the Regions.
Each Region will propose in writing, at the beginning of the Assembly, no
more than two members from its Region.
Approve the President’s Triennial report.
Approve priorities for the next working period.
Establish annual dues and other financial obligations.
12. The Executive Board
§ 1. The Executive
Board is the ordinary governing organ of the Commission. It is presided over by the President.
§ 2. The Executive
Board consists of the President, Vice-President, a member from each of the
Regions, the Treasurer and the Secretary General.
The mandate of the elected members is usually for three years, adapted to
the needs of the Assembly, with the possibility of re-election to a new mandate.
§ 3 All terms of office are coincident with the ordinary
13. Competencies of the Executive
Besides other competencies
that are given to it in other articles of the Statutes or by right:
The Executive Board moderates and directs the work of the Commission and
executes decisions of the Plenary Assembly.
The Executive Board must report to the Plenary Assembly.
The Executive Board has the right to cover vacancies that occur within
the Commission. These appointments
last until the end of the mandate.
The Executive Board examines applications for admission to the Commission
on the basis of the mandated competence.
The Executive Board will establish an Economic Council according to cc
The Executive Board can nominate consultants who, although not members of
the Commission, may participate in its meetings in an advisory role.
The Executive Board decides upon the place, date and preparation for the
The Executive Board has the final decision in all matters within its
14. The President
These are the powers of the President of the Commission, without
prejudice to other
competencies to which they may correspond:
To preside over and direct the Commission and to represent it in a
juridical sense in all negotiations and before external bodies.
To preside over the Plenary Assembly and the meetings of the Executive
Board, according to art. 10,3.
To inform the Plenary Assembly of the life and activities of the
Commission and its future.
Only a Delegate member of the Commission who has been legitimately
proposed may hold the Presidency of the Commission.
The election of the President must take place in the following manner.
Four months prior to the Plenary Assembly: a) each of the Regions will propose,
in writing, any two candidates for
the Presidency; b) likewise a
candidate for President may be proposed by a consensus that includes more than
one fifth of the total Delegate members. They must present this in writing
within the mentioned time frame. No one can support more than one
Is elected by the
Plenary Assembly after the election of the President, from among other
candidates who have been presented (art. 14 d).
Assists the President in his function and substitutes for the President
in his absence.
In case of the President’s death or inability to exercise his functions
for any reason, the Vice-President will assume the Presidency until the end of
16. The Treasurer
Is appointed by the Executive Board and is constituted as a member of
this Board, with a right to vote.
Directs the accounts and makes payments according to the President’s
Prepares the annual budget.
Prepares the financial statement for presentation to the Executive Board,
the Plenary Assembly and the Holy See.
Administers income and expenses
Administers with special
attention to cc. 1300-1307.
17. The Secretary General
Is appointed by the Executive Board and is a member of this Board, with
the right to vote.
Directs the Commission’s Secretariat accordingly.
Assumes responsibility for minutes, archives and correspondence.
Assists and supports the President and the Executive Board in
international relations and in overall secretarial duties.
18. Representation of the
Commission is officially represented to parties in legal matters when the
signature of the President and the signature of another member of the Executive
Board is presented on relevant documents, according to art 15.
19. Juridical Administration,
election and voting procedures
quorum of one third of delegate members is required for the validity of the
delegate member has only one vote. Written authority, addressed to the President
of the Commission, may be given to any member to vote by proxy. The proxy must
be a general delegation to vote in every ballot. No one can vote by proxy for
more than one country.
1. For elections, an
absolute majority of votes from those who are present is required for the first
and second ballot. If this is not
successful, the third ballot will include the two candidates who have received
the highest number of votes. In
this case, a relative majority is sufficient.
In the case of a tie, the person who has been member of the Commission
for the longest period of time will be elected.
2. Absolute majority of
votes of those present is required for the acceptance of a proposal.
In case of a tie, the voting continues on to a second ballot.
In this case, the vote also requires an absolute majority.
If a new tie occurs, the President decides about the proposal. If the
proposal is negative or abstained, the motion is considered as refused because
an absolute majority was not reached.
3. These rules are also
valid for actions of the Plenary Assembly or the Executive Board, as well as for
the commissions that are established for special assignments.
4. In a case where there is no provision in the articles for election or voting,
common canonical law will take effect.
20. The Commission and the Regions
1. The Region, as defined by the
Plenary Assembly, can organize, on its own initiative, in agreement with the
Bishops of the respective Episcopal Conference,
activities in their particular Region.
The Region is responsible for the organization and the financing of the
2. The Commission may collaborate
with persons, publications or other forms of media or support in activities that
promote the Commission’s objectives and that are organized on its own
initiative by delegates of the Region, the delegation of a Nation, or by the
Episcopal Conference. The
Representative of the Region in the Executive Board will be the principal agent
of this collaboration.
21. The material goods and their administration
The material goods of the Commission consist of
dues by members, donations, investments, bequests, gifts from
foundations, interests and deposits of the Commission’s resources.
All business of the Commission shall be covered by means of the
Commission, and responsibility will
not fall on individual members. Likewise, no member of the Commission has the
right over the goods of the Commission.
Reasonable expenses incurred by members of the Executive Board in
preparing for its meetings shall be reimbursed by the Commission, whenever
Attendants to the Plenary Assembly are personally responsible for their
own expenses. The President, after having consulted with the Executive Board,
may give Commission funds to help members who find themselves in peculiar
The fiscal year both begins and ends with the calendar year.
Each year, according to Canon Law cc.
319 § 2, 1287 §1, a financial report will be sent to the Holy See.
An Economic Council is established according cc 1280. Members of the
Executive Board cannot be member of this Council.
22. Acts of Extraordinary
1. Provisions in the annual budget are considered acts of ordinary
2. Outside of this, all others are
considered extraordinary administrative acts which exceed the annual budgeted
amount by over one third.
3. The competent authority for the
validation of extraordinary acts of administration shall be the Commission
Justitia et Pax.
23. Changes in the Statutes
change in the Statutes of the Commission requires a majority of two thirds of
the members present in a Plenary Assembly that has at least one third of
Delegate Members of the Commission, according to art. 19.
The proposed change(s) must have been communicated three months in
24. Dissolution of the Commission
1. The Commission, as a juridical
person, ceases to exist in the manner prescribed by Canon Law, c. 120 § 2.
2. A petition of dissolution shall
be considered legitimate when the Plenary Assembly, with a majority of
two thirds of its Delegate Members, decides upon such. If a Plenary
Assembly cannot be held, written consent suffices. The decision shall be sent by
the President to the Holy See.
§ 3. It is the will of the Commission that in the case of dissolution and after all outstanding debts have been liquidated, the remaining goods should be donated to Caritas Internationalis, as long as the Plenary Assembly does not decide otherwise..
 Johannes Paulus II, Message for the Jubilee in prisons, July 9, 2000.
has the right to freedom of
thought, conscience and religion”, Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, U.N.O. December 10, 1948.
In the Standard Minimum Rules for Treatment of Prisoners we read:
“ There shall be no
discrimination on grounds of race, color, sex, language,. religion...","On the
other hand it is necessary to respect the religious beliefs and
moral precepts of the group to which a prisoner belongs. “
"lf the institution
contains a sufficient number of prisoners of the same religion, a qualified representative of that
religion shall be appointed or approved.
If the number of prisoners
justify it, and conditions permit, the arrangements should be
on a full-time basis. "A
qualified representative appointed or approved under
paragraph I shall be allowed to hold regular services and to pay pastoral visits in private to prisoners of his religion at proper
times.” "Access to a qualified representative of any religion shall not be refused to any
prisoner. On the other hand, if
any prisoner should object to a visit of any religious representative, his attitude shall be fully respected."
In the Treatment on Economical and Social
….. we read:
far as practicable, every prisoner shall be allowed to satisfy
the needs of his religious life by attending the services provided in
the institution and having in his possession the books of religious
observance and instruction of his denomination.”