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Les religions en prisons

Spiritual assistance to inmates of penitentiaries has been carried out in an institutionalised way before the communist takeover. Traditionally, prisons also had chapels. During the communist rule this church activity was not possible, but since the fall of the communist system it is widely appreciated by penitentiaries. Several ecumenical prison chapels were reopened or built, and the chaplaincy service also has an institutional framework since 2000.

In 2000, a chaplaincy for the penitentiaries was established for the Catholic, the Reformed, and the Lutheran churches, as well as for the Jewish community. This institution is similar to the army chaplaincy. All other registered religions also have the right to pursue religious activities in the penitentiaries on the request of the inmates ; however, the four largest religions are institutionalised, and their pastors can become public servants, paid by the penitentiaries as their own staff. To qualify, these chaplains must have permission from their churches, and they must comply with the requirements of civil servants. Besides clergymen (which is, for the Catholic Church, not only ordained priests but also deacons) employed by the penitentiary as a prison chaplain, religious communities are free to send any other person (clergy or lay) to pursue religious activities in the prisons. However, they would not be paid by the penitentiary.

Organized prison chaplaincy of mainstream religious communities does not rule out the possibility of any other religious community to engage into prison missions. In practice, penitentiaries welcome all kinds of religious activities, not just those provided by official prison chaplains. Other religious initiatives shall be granted space at prisons and cooperation in this respect functions well. Prisons – unlike the army – are in a situation where they are compelled to appreciate any kind of assistance in the resocialisation of their inmates.

Tihanyi M., "A börtönlelkészi szolgálat működése : A vallásszabadság jogának szervezeti keretei a büntetés-végrehajtási intézetekben" (Operation of the Prison Pastoral Service : Organizational Framework for the Right to Religious Freedom in Penitentiary Institutions), IAS 2018/3, 203-218.

D 9 février 2021    ABalázs Schanda

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