(26 Jun 08 - RV) Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant
People has issued a message for "Sea Sunday", which occures on July 13th. We have
Sea Sunday Message 2008
Sea Sunday is annually a day set
aside for the remembrance and prayer for all those who are mariners, fishers, port
workers together with their families and dependents. This is therefore an opportunity
for us to remember the issues that seafarers daily confront in undertaking their professional
and seafaring life in the context of the pastoral care of the Apostleship of the Sea
throughout the world, which is characterized also by our support for human rights,
fair trade and the defence of the environment.
Coming one year after the XXII
AOS World Congress, which was held in Gdynia (Poland) in 2007, this celebration will
certainly give new impetus to our pledge to remain in solidarity – as stated by the
theme of the Congress – with the People of the Sea as witnesses of Hope, through the
Proclamation of the Word, Liturgy and Diakonia, and to promote in the maritime world
a humanism inspired by Christian hope. Its introduction in the maritime environment
means first and foremost the creation of a climate of respect and fairness for all
Towards this end, the AOS has welcomed the adoption by the ILO
of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 and the Work in Fishing Convention 2007. Now
that these two Conventions have been adopted, the work of all national AOS continue
in order to ensure that they are ratified and implemented as quickly as possible so
that they may make a genuine improvement to the lives of millions of seafarers and
However, there is one area of maritime activity which is of particular
concern all over the world, that of the fishing profession. The fishing communities
in fact are battling against the more negative aspects of globalisation and are confronted
with economic, social and ecological problems of international proportion. Everywhere
AOS has to manifest solidarity with them and intensify its pastoral mission in this
area, as these next years will be decisive if we want the oceans to live, the fishing
communities to survive and to continue harvesting fish, on which more than one billion
people rely, till now, as their main source of protein.
In this perspective
Pope Benedict XVI has spoken about “the great challenge of today [that] is to 'globalise,'
not just economic and commercial interests, but also the call for solidarity.” This
will be possible only if “the person, created in the image of God and loved by him,
[is] at the centre of every economic plan to protect and administer the immense resources
of creation” (Speech to ‘Centesimus Annus-Pro Pontifice’ Foundation, May 31, 2008).
sad and emerging phenomenon, which must be mentioned, is piracy. In some parts of
the world, this is prevalent and presents a real threat to the security of vessels
and their crews. AOS therefore must support every move by the International Community
and local Authorities to address this problem.
Our world celebration also gives
us this year the opportunity to thank again all chaplains, pastoral agents and volunteers
who are active in the AOS and who extend pastoral and practical assistance together
with hospitality to all seafarers regardless of race, creed or political opinion.
One of our great strengths is the number of laity who work in a voluntary capacity
for the AOS in chaplaincies, together with the ongoing formation and training in so
many places that continue to bear fruit.
In this respect we would like to
recommend that our new ‘Manual for Chaplains and Pastoral Agents of the Apostleship
of the Sea’ be translated if possible in local languages under the authority of the
respective national AOS. In this way this pastoral instrument, which has already proved
to be an excellent guide, will benefit to an ever greater number of people.
rejoice too – as it was stressed in Gdynia – for the ecumenical collaboration and
interreligious dialogue taking place aboard ships, in the ports and in seafarers’
centres. Our presence and witness express the solicitude and proximity of the Church
to all those who are involved in the maritime environment, especially to the poorest
and those most in need.
We pray that this celebration of Sea Sunday will enable
us to renew our commitment to human promotion and evangelisation. May Mary, Stella
Maris, intercede for us in asking for God’s grace, so that AOS may ever more remain
committed to the building up of God’s Kingdom in the maritime world.