From National Defence
The Royal Canadian Chaplain Service contributes to the operational effectiveness of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) by supporting the moral and spiritual well-being of military personnel and their families in all aspects of their lives, during conflict and peacetime. Chaplains minister to the needs of all members of the CAF and their families, whether they attend church or are of the same religion – whether they have any spiritual beliefs at all.
CAF Chaplains have dual accountability to ecclesiastical and military authorities. As faith group leaders, chaplains come under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of their denominations and faith groups. As commissioned officers, they are subject to the code of service discipline and are responsible to their military superiors. The Royal Canadian Chaplain Service is headed by a Chaplain General who advises the Chief of Defence Staff and reports administratively to the Chief of Military Personnel.
What they do
Chaplains are responsible for fostering the religious and pastoral care of the CAF members and their families, regardless of religious affiliation.
A Chaplain has privileged access to all CAF members of all ranks, has no commanding authority, and is prohibited from bearing arms under the Geneva Conventions. Their responsibilities include:
- officiating at special functions, religious services and ceremonies
- advising the Commanding Officer regarding religious accommodations issues, ethical dilemmas, as well as spiritual and moral issues of the unit
- liaising with civilian religious faith groups
- referring members to other care providers such as social workers, psychologists, or medical personnel
- providing direct care after significant life incidents
- providing notifications to a member’s next-of-kin when directed
- apply knowledge in general military administration and chaplain branch policies.
A Chaplain works in all military environments with members of the Navy, Army and the Air Force. Chaplains provide a ministry of presence and offer spiritual teaching programs. Ceremonies typically require the chaplain to offer prayers, and church services in public and unit parades. Liaison with other spiritual leaders in the civilian community is expected. Chaplains can work in Canada or may be required to go abroad during operations.