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The story of how the IPCA Worldwide began
By Pekka Viirre in 2010
Background of the IPCA 1975-1982

In Geneva 1975, I was participating in The 5th United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders.

I noticed that there were all kinds of participants: many NGO.s, such as WCC, LWF, Interpol, police chiefs, Childcare, Women's associations, Prison aid, those against torture etc .....

BUT WHERE were the Prison Chaplains?

1983: I called Allan Robertson who told about Alan Duce...
1983: I called Allan Robertson who told about Alan Duce ....
Biannual conferences from 1973
  • The Prison Chaplains of Finland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden had 1982 conference was held in Denmark Lögum Kloster Prästhöijeskole 8-12.2.1982.
  • I answered and told about the UN Conference of 1975, and that it would be possible to organise a consultation based on The Standard Minimum Rules (religion 41§ and 42§) of The Treatment of Prisoners.
  • The UN.s Congress was to be held in Milan 26.8.- 6.9.1985. Maybe we were able to have our Consultation at the same time in Milan?
  • The Chaplains decided to have The Worldwide Prison Chaplains' Consultation and I got the mandate to plan The Consultation because I was a fulltime secretary for the Pastoral Care of Offenders in the Lutheran Church of Finland.
The Standard Minimum Rules
  • for the Treatment of Prisoners (resolution 663 C l (XXIV) of 31 July 1957 approved the UN Council) are also the basics of Prison Chaplaincy.
  • Basic principle 6. (1) The following rules shall be applied impartially. There shall be no discrimination on grounds of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
  • (2) On the other hand, it is necessary to respect the religious beliefs and moral precepts of the group to which a prisoner belongs.
  • 41.(1) If 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 justices it and conditions permit, the arrangement should be on a full-time basis.
  • 41. (2) A qualified representative appointed or approved under paragraph (1) - shall be allowed to hold regular services and pay pastoral visits in private to prisoners of his religion at proper times.
Bossey 1985 - IPCA participants sitting outside
Meditating in the cathedral 1983
  • I was a participant at The Conference of the International association of penal law , held in Vienna 1983. So I hade time to go to St. Stephen's Cathedral.
  • In my meditation I got, I found, I understood: "Mary is The Mother of the Sentenced Jesus!" "NEW TESTAMENT: John.19: 25. Standing close to Jesus' cross were his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26. Jesus saw his mother and the disciple he loved standing there; so he said to his mother, 'He is your son.'27. Then he said to the disciple, 'She is your mother.' From that time the disciple took her to live in his home."
  • After the meditation in the St. Stephen`s Cathedral, the doors opened to the Consulation of the Prison Chaplains.
  • I just went on the path paved already ... "Mary and John were "the first Prison Chaplains"!
The Steering Comittee of IPCA 85-90
Planning of the first IPCA 1983 to 1985
  • The Diaconia Board and the Lutheran Church of Finland had contacts to Church bodies like LWF, WCC and HEUNI etc.
  • The members of the special Advisory Board for pastoral care of offenders in the Lutheran Church of Finland all had their own international contacts.
  • By the time it consisted of: Terhi Viljanen, Senior programme officer of the European Instiute for Crime Prevention and Control, affiliated with the United Nations (HEUNI); Aimo Myllylä, Director of the Prison Personnel Training Centre of the Finnish Prison Administration; Keijo Plit, Prison Chaplain; Paavo Lounela, Probation officer and Juhani Iivari, Prison Chaplain.
  • The programme and topics were planned together with Scandinavian Prison Chaplains in the Conference in Norway 1984.
The others who helped to plan 1983 -

The "helping professors" were:

  • Inkeri Anttila, Director of HEUNI
  • Louk Hulsman, Rotterdam University
  • Mauno Sinnemäki, Helsinki University
Programme and Topics...

Conference in Norway 7.-11.5. 1984 Mariaholm Skolesenter, Spydeberg. Scandinavian Prison Chaplains participating:

  • Carl Lomholt, Johannes Stidsen, Susanne Bjärregaard, Erik J. Stabrun, Anne Turi Apland Grave, Paul Leer Salvesen. Arild Völlestad, Allan Robertson and others.

So it was not one man (Pekka) but dozens of women and men, and Mary!

Travelling 16.6.- 4.7. 1984 Interrail
  • Rotterdam 19.-20.6.1984 Erasmus University L.C. Hulsman, Alan Duce, G.W.M. de Wit, Joop Spoor, W.van Amnsel.
  • 21.-28.6. Vienna United Nations: Slavomir Redo, crime prevention officer and Minoru Shikita, director of the then UN crime prevention and criminal justice branch
  • 29.6: LWF rev. Risto Lehtonen and WCC
  • Prison Chalpains Consulation was to be held in Bossey 21.-25.8.1985, not in Milan in connection of the VII UN Crime congress as originally planned.
  • Director of UN Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Branch Minoru Shikita asked me in Vienna: Why only Christian Prison Chaplains? I said that "We christians have so many problems together, that it would be better to try to understand each other first".


UN , LWF, and WCC

A: UN: Dr. Slawomir Redo and director Minoru Shikita sent a positive message to LWF and WCC.

B. LWF: Director Risto Lehtonen, rev George Posfay, Ursula Kossec were helping further

C. WCC: Moderator of The Programme Unit on Justice and service WCC: Erich Weingärtner, Mr. Uffe Gjerding gave opportunities such as office assistances and contacts to the other Churches and Ecumenical bodies and

D. Bossey Ecumenical Institute, director Brigitta Wende director Minoru Shikita sent a positive message to LWF and BOSSEY 1985.

  • 50 Prison Chaplains from 20 Countries all over the world:
  • Iceland, South-Africa, USA, Brazil, Papua New Guinea, India, Indonesia, New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, West and East Germany, England, Holland, Switzerland, Austria, Australia and France.
    The Establishment of the International PRISON CHAPLAINS Association 25.8.1985
VII UN Crime Congress, Milan 26.8.-6.9.1985
  • Some Prison Chaplains had the opportunity to participate in the Congress as part of delegations of some Non-Governmental Organisations.
  • LWF: Pekka Viirre, Allan Robertson
  • WCC: Alan Duce, Kathy Young
  • Salvation Army: Kurt Goldbach, Jaakko Kaunismäki, David Moulton, Charles Brewer, Rune Sjöström, James Tackaberry and Kauko Paananen
  • The delegates of Canada, Finland and Norway took up our following recommendations in the plenary meeting of the Congress.

In the opening service in Bossey 1985, Bishop Kortekangas of Finland wore for the first time this Stola. It was originally aimed to be used in a Central-American village church, but the church was destroyed by military and their priest was arrested. Then the Stola was sold to Mrs Louk Hulsman who took it to Holland. Later, I bought it from her and have been wearing it in my own pastoral work. Now, I want to give it to IPCA and hope that it will be used at IPCA's services.

Personal information
  • I am canon Pekka Viirre, now retired from The Office of Diaconia Board of the Lutheran Church of Finland where I worked as the Secretary of Pastoral Care of Offenders 1972- 2002.
  • I have been "Social-street worker among youngsters" first in Helsinki City 1962- and then as a leader of the "special-youthwork" in the Parishes of Helsinki 1966- 1972
  • We visited as a groupworkers every week The Youth Prison from 1966 to1972, I was 1978 -1984 a member of the Governing Board of Helsinki Central Prison and "co-therapist" in the team of the mental health department of the same prison.














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