2012-07-07 18:55:27

Sea Sunday: Mariners not invisible to the eyes of God

On the occasion of Sea Sunday, which this year will be celebrated around the world on July 8, the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People has published the Message for the Day of the Sea. The message notes that “seafarers and their families are not invisible to the eyes of God and the Church. For over ninety years the Apostolate of the Sea has recognised their hard work, their difficulties and their sufferings through pastoral care offered by its chaplains and volunteers. On the annual Sea Sunday, we hope that our Christian communities and society in general will, first of all, recognise the people of the sea as human beings who contribute to making our lives more comfortable, and then give thanks for the work and sacrifices.”

Below please find the full text of the Message for Sea Sunday 2012 from the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People:

Message for Sea Sunday 2012
8 July 2012

Before globalization the maritime industry played an important role in shipping consumables, raw material and finished products around the globe and also in transporting a great number of migrants. Even more today when 90% of global trade is moved by sea together with millions of passengers travelling for pleasure on board cruise ships.New ports built far away from city centres, fast turnaround of vessels and limited time to come ashore often make seafarers invisible to society, unless a pirates’ attack or a shipwreck happens and they are in the news for a short time.
However, seafarers and their families are not invisible to God and to the Church. Their hard work, difficulties and sufferings have been recognized for more than ninety years through the pastoral care offered by the chaplains and volunteers of the Apostleship of the Sea.
We see seafarers as a professionally qualified workforce, capable of performing their job often in very dangerous situations including pirate attacks and unpredictable severe weather.
We see seafarers working in substandard conditions on board old and rusted vessels, victims of criminalization, abandoned and often with their salary not paid on time or not paid at all.
We see seafarers docking in foreign lands in need of a welcoming smile, a word of consolation and support, transport into town, a place to relax without suffering discrimination for their nationality, colour or beliefs.
We see seafarers as family members, forced to live far away from loved ones and friends for many months at a time, sharing the limited space of the vessel with other crew members of different nationalities.
We see seafarers as individuals who show in simple ways their deep trust in God, seeking guidance and strength by attending mass and prayer services or praying privately.
Through Sea Sunday each year, we want our Christian communities and society at large first of all to recognize seafarers as human beings who contribute to make our life more comfortable and to give thanks for their work and sacrifices.
We also hope to publicise that they need protection from abuse and exploitation. For this reason we renew our appeal that the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC 2006) be ratified as soon as possible to guarantee full protection and decent working conditions for the more than 1.2 million seafarers around the world.
The Apostleship of the Sea is known worldwide as Stella Maris, the Star of the Sea.
We pray to Our Lady, Star of the Sea, to protect the people of the sea and guide them to secure havens.
Antonio Maria Card. Vegliò
X Joseph Kalathiparambil

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