Wanted: Prison chaplains

Wanted: Prison chaplains

Bishop Oscar Jaime Florencio of the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines delivers the homily during Mass in Manila for the start of Prison Awareness Week on Oct. 21. CBCPNEWS

By Roy Lagarde

October 22, 2019

Manila, Philippines

The country’s military ordinariate is seeking more pastors for inmates at prisons around the country.

Today jails in the country hold some 182,000 inmates. Yet, most of these facilities do not maintain a position for chaplains.

Military Bishop Oscar Jaime Florencio said the Church cannot undermine the importance of chaplains to minister to the inmates.

He said the military ordinariate only has eight priest chaplains for the Bureau of Jail and Management and Penology.

“There are only a few of us,” Florencio said. “We don’t have many all over the Philippines.”

The Military Ordinariate of the Philippines is responsible for the pastoral care of Catholics serving in the military, police, coastguard units and prison service.

The bishop said the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines is already looking into the matter after he presented his concern during the last plenary meeting.

He said the idea is to involve diocesan priests to work hand in hand with the BJMP chaplains.

“What I’m trying to work out is for the bishops to nod for the priest in the diocese to act as an auxiliary chaplain,” Florencio said.

He said the new chaplains will be recognized by the BJMP and the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines as their partners in prison ministry.

Florencio said he wants the bishops themselves to appoint somebody since they know their priests who can be at the service of the prison ministry.