Sea Sunday Also Focuses on Need for Solidarity With Fishermen

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 25, 2008 ( The threat of pirates and the well-being of fishermen are two of the main concerns noted by the Vatican's Apostleship for the Sea.

This was affirmed in the annual message for Sea Sunday, released by the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, and signed by its president, Cardinal Renato Martino.

That pontifical council is the Vatican dicastery that includes the pastoral care of seafarers. Sea Sunday will be celebrated this year on July 13.

"Sea Sunday is annually a day set aside for the remembrance and prayer for all those who are mariners, fishers and port workers, together with their families and dependents," Cardinal Martino said. "This is therefore an opportunity for us to remember the issues that seafarers daily confront in undertaking their professional and seafaring life."

The message noted an area 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 globalization and are confronted with economic, social and ecological problems of international proportion," he said. "Everywhere [the Apostleship of the Sea] 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."

Cardinal Martino affirmed that in this area, Benedict XVI's call for a "globalization of solidarity" is particularly relevant.

Another area of concern noted by the prelate is that of piracy.

"In some parts of the world, this is prevalent and presents a real threat to the security of vessels and their crews," he said. "AOS therefore must support every move by the international community and local authorities to address this problem."

Finally, the cardinal mentioned a highlight of the apostleship's work: that of fostering ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.

"We rejoice too [...] for the ecumenical collaboration and interreligious dialogue taking place aboard ships, in the ports and in seafarers' centers," the message said. "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 evangelization. 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."