Pontifical Council for the Pastoral
Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
Sea Sunday Message
(13th July 2014)
Throughout the history
the sea was the place where routes
of explorers and adventurers
intersected, and where battles
determined the rise and fall
of many nations. But it
is, above all, a privileged place for
exchange of goods and global trade.
Actually, over 90% of merchandises
transported by nearly 100,000 ships,
that unrelenting, are sailing from
one end of the world to the other,
run by a workforce of
approximately 1.2 million seafarers
of all races, nationalities and
we are invited to become aware of the
hardships and difficulties
that seafarers face
daily and of the valuable
service provided by the Apostleship
of the Sea in being
Church who bears witness of the
Lord’s mercy and tenderness in
order to preach the Gospel in the ports of
the whole world.
Due to a
number of factors related to their
seafarers are invisible to us and to
our society. As we celebrate
Sea Sunday, I wish to invite
every Christian to look around
and realize how many of
the objects we use in our daily lives
have come to us through the hard
and laborious work
we observe their lives carefully,
we immediately realize that
they are certainly not as romantic
as sometimes is shown
in films and novels.
of seafarers is
difficult and dangerous.
In addition to having to face the
rage and power of nature, that
even upon the most modern and
technologically advanced ships
(according to the International
Maritime Organization [IMO]
in 2012, more than 1,000
seafarers have died
as a result of shipwrecks,
maritime collisions, etc.), we
should not forget the risk of piracy,
which is never defeated
it but is transformed in
new and different ways and is
manifested in many maritime routes,
and also the danger of criminalization
and abandonment without wages,
food and protection in foreign ports.
the ship and the port are the
universe of life
is economically viable only
when sailing and, therefore,
must continually sail from
one port to another. The
of cargo-handling operations
reduced the time
of berthing and the free time of crew members, while
security measures have restricted
the opportunities to
Seafarers do not
choose their companions of journey.
Each crew is a microcosm
of people from different
nationalities, cultures and religions,
forced to live together in the
limited area of a ship
for the duration of the contract,
without any interest
in common, communicating with an
idiom that often is not theirs.
For seafarers loneliness and
isolation are traveling companions.
By its nature,
the work of seafarers bring them to
be away, even for long
periods, from their family environment.
For the crews
is not always easy to
have access to the numerous
technologies (telephone, wi-fi,
etc.) for contacting family and
friends. In most cases,
children are born and
grow up without their presence,
thus increasing the sense of loneliness
that accompanies their
The Church, in her maternal concern, for over ninety years has been providing her pastoral care to the people of the sea throughout the Work of the Apostleship of the Sea.
Every year thousands of seafarers are welcomed in ports, at the Stella Maris Centers, distinctive places where seafarers are warmly received, can relax away from the ship and contact family members using different means of communication made available to them.
The volunteers daily visit seafarers on ships, in hospitals and those who are abandoned in foreign ports, ensuring a word of consolation but also concrete support when needed.
The chaplains are always available to offer spiritual assistance (celebration of the Eucharist, ecumenical prayers, etc.) to seafarers of all nationalities who are in need, especially in times of difficulty and crisis.
Apostleship of the Sea gives voice to
those who often
have no voice,
denouncing abuses and injustices,
defending the rights of the people of
the sea and asking to the maritime industry
and to the individual governments to
respect international Conventions.
While, during this Sea Sunday, we express our gratitude to all those who work in the maritime industry, with a trusting heart we ask Mary, Star of the Sea to guide, enlighten and protect the sailing of the whole people of the sea and support the members of the Apostleship of the Sea in their pastoral ministry.
Antonio Maria Cardinal Vegliò
X Joseph Kalathiparambil