Karl Rahner’s views on prison ministry, although valuable and of significance in their context, are not adequate to deal with the more complex needs and demands of prison ministry in the twenty first century. A greater pastoral appreciation is necessary of the traumas, conflicts and suffering experienced by prisoners, prison pastors, prison staff and, indeed, in the wider world. The subjective world of the prisoner also needs to be addressed in an effort to engage with the innate human desire for meaning and fulfilment. Prison ministry today draws on concrete experience of the above-mentioned traumas and conflicts and must be sensitive to and inspired by the search for meaning as experienced by prisoners. Such an approach leads to a theology based on empowerment
that can be found through a creative and meaning-centred response to suffering, as illustrated by the lives of Viktor Frankl, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Etty Hillesum. The fact that no extensive Rahner-study has been done before in relation to his theology of the prison pastorate, this study about his understanding of pastoral ministry in correctional facilities creates and advances the comprehension of a theological foundation for further scholarly analysis of a timely and imperative subject.
Meins Coetsier studied philosophy at The Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy and was awarded doctorate degrees from Ghent University in Philosophy (2008) and Comparative Science of Culture (2012). After postdoctoral research at Zurich University, he works as a deacon and prison chaplain for the Diocese of Fulda in Germany and as a part-time researcher in theology at Trinity College Dublin. He is author and editor of various academic books and has published several chapters, articles and conference proceedings in theology, philosophy, and culture studies.