Vatican draws attention to sacrifice of seafarers, requests prayers

Vatican City, Jul 15, 2019 / 11:49 am (CNA).- The prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development urged prayers Sunday for seafarers, fishermen, and maritime workers, by whose work some 90% of the world’s goods are transported.

“Though we do not realize it, the work of seafarers is essential for our daily lives,” Cardinal Peter Turkson wrote in a message for “Sea Sunday,” July 14.

This is because “most of the possessions that we have in our houses, the television, the fridge, the washing machine, computer and phone, not to mention the fuel for our cars, the clothes we wear, and many other items are all made in distant parts of the world and brought to us by seafarers,” he said.

In his message, Turkson underlined the need to consider and reflect upon the importance seafarers and fishermen have on the comfort and well-being of others.

“The faithful are requested to remember and pray for the 1.5 million seafarers who criss-cross the oceans and the seas, transporting almost 90% of goods from one nation to another,” the cardinal said.

He noted that hazards faced by seafarers can include depression brought on by isolation and living in confined spaces, a delayed salary, exploitation, tough working conditions, threat of piracy or terrorist attack, and lack of proper rest.

Turkson acknowledged that with the ratification and implementation of some international legislation conditions aboard many vessels have improved, though he underlined that in some parts of the world, there are still “unscrupulous ship owners” who take advantage of a lack of law enforcement.

“In the faces of seafarers from different nations, I invite you to recognize the face of Christ in
your midst,” the cardinal said. “In the confusion of languages, I recommend you to speak the language of Christian love that welcomes everyone and excludes no one.”

In his message, Turkson praised the work of Apostleship of the Sea, or Stella Maris, a Catholic organization which provides pastoral care for seafarers and their families.

The organization will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2020, and will hold its world congress in Glasgow Sept. 29-Oct. 4 of that year. Glasgow was the location of the first meeting of Apostleship of the Sea in 1920, when they discussed a revival of ship-visiting in riverside parishes. The group’s constitution was approved by Pius XI in 1922.

Turkson said: “I would like to encourage the chaplains and volunteers of Stella Maris/Apostleship of the Sea during their daily ship visits to be vigilant and approach each seafarer and fisher with the same committed spirit that animated the pioneers of our ministry.”

The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development released a prayer for the occasion of “Sea Sunday.”

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