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Sweden: Christian Council of Churches, spiritual support in the country’s 46 jails

The official two-year appointment as coordinator of spiritual support of convicts that the Christian Council of the Swedish Churches received in Autumn from the Swedish service for prisons and probation, an organisation that is an integral part of the Swedish legal system, started in January. About 150 priests, pastors, deacons and pastoral workers will be available in the country’s 46 detention centres. Every jail has its Council for Spiritual Support (NAV), which appoints a priest of the Church of Sweden, a pastor of one of the free churches, a Catholic priest, an Orthodox priest, trains them and coordinates their efforts. The imam is appointed by the Danish Islamic Council. NAVs report to a steering committee, within the Council of the Churches. While until last year NAVs already worked hard in the prisons, this appointment is “evidence of the trust that is placed on the Council of Churches”, stated the general secretary, Karin Wiborn. One of the chaplains’ responsibilities is personal conversation, organising religious services and initiatives, being in charge of the volunteers. If they wish, the convicts, wherever they are, can ask to experience a spiritual retreat at the men’s jail of Kumla and the women’s prison of Frövi, to “find themselves again through silence and contemplation”. “The retreat – they explain – is not a course in Christian faith”.

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