Message to the Maritime World
"Not a Question of Achieving, But Rather of Being" (June 29, 2007)
VATICAN CITY.- Here is a June 29 message to the maritime world,
released by the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers.
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Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers
XXII World Congress of the Apostleship of the Sea
Message to the Maritime World: Witnesses of Hope for a Christian
Humanism in the Maritime World
Today, June 29, 2007, the feast of the apostles St. Peter and St. Paul,
who was the navigator of the Gospel, we the members of the Apostleship
of the Sea are gathered in the Polish port of Gdynia on the Baltic Sea
for our 22nd world congress organized by the Pontifical Council for the
Migrants and Travelers. We turn to you, the people of the sea, of
coastal communities and exercising maritime professions, to address our
message of solidarity with you.
The theme of our congress has been: In Solidarity With the People of
the Sea, Witnesses of Hope Through the Word of God, Liturgy and Service.
Naturally we are aware of the many inhuman situations that persist in
the maritime world and, alongside you, we speak out against them: Human
beings still endure great injustices with indescribable suffering and
But we also know that many of you live by genuine values of solidarity
and courage and that even onboard ship, people of different character,
different cultures and religions, can coexist in friendship.
We also know that new technologies help you to communicate better with
your families and among yourselves and to make your voices heard in the
public arena. We acknowledge those institutions which make these
technologies available to you and teach you how to use them.
Not having access to these technologies, or not knowing how to use
them, only serves to widen the gulf which separates those who know from
those who do not, those who are habitually poor. In reality, certain
businesses use technology to subject you to working patterns more
appropriate to robots, to the detriment of the human, spiritual and
familial facets of your lives.
For these and other reasons, we pledge to remain in solidarity with you
as witnesses of hope. The Church is conscious of being that fragile
boat on which the hope of the world set sail, the hope that is more
than a mere word, idea or dream. As Christians, we believe that hope is
the one who bears a human name and face, our savior Jesus, the hope of
-- As the human face of the love of God, he makes us the messengers of
-- Son of God, he turns us toward his Father whom he teaches us to love
as our Father and to worship as our only God.
-- Sharing in our grief and our suffering, he urges us especially
toward those who have least, so that we can serve them as witnesses of
And so, in these three ways, inspired by his Spirit, he moves us to
advocate a maritime humanism brought to life by Christian hope. The
fulfillment of this hope is not a question of achieving or of doing,
but rather of being, of living a life of true humanity such as God
wanted for us whom he created in his image.
It is through this hope that he asks us to speak not with words, but
with actions as Pope Benedict XVI tells us, recalling the words of St.
John, in his encyclical "Deus Caritas Est."
Specifically, that means that the Lord is not only asking us to be the
voice of the voiceless, for which of course your professional
organizations serve. But in addition, he asks us to be his word, the
word that we live and share throughout the maritime world, which is
both our world and yours. The Word of God is bearer of his comforting
presence and witness to the world which is to come, the world we will
build together and which is also the gift of God, the heavenly
It is through Christian hope that Christ asks us to turn toward God, as
you do so often when faced with the vastness of the sea, its violence
and its splendor. He asks us to adore the Creator, to respect his
creation, to turn our hearts away from false gods and idols. He asks us
to celebrate this God who has made us as his own and placed the seal of
his infinity in our hearts; this God who gives us his real presence in
the Eucharist and deep moments of hope, joy and abundance in the
Finally, it is through Christian hope that Christ, priest and deacon,
asks us to serve the people of the sea wherever we are, in the public
arena and among the leaders of Christian communities. He asks us to
ensure that these people do not continue to turn their backs to the sea
but attend to the needs of those who put out into the deep and live
from the sea within their culture.
Since the Rio congress of 2002, we have rejoiced in the creation of the
International Fishing Committee of AOS and the passing of the new ILO
Convention on Fishing, which favors marine fishers, on June 14, 2007.
On this occasion, we wish to draw your attention to two publications of
the Church: the compendium of social doctrine and the Manual for the
Apostleship of the Sea. These publications are very useful for the
formation of all.
To finish, we would like to thank all the pastoral agents, ordained
ministers, religious, lay men and women, employees and volunteers who,
in whatever way, share in the life of the Apostleship of the Sea. We
know of excellent results in many places of the sincere ecumenical
collaboration and interreligious dialogue taking place on land, at sea
and in seafarers' centers.
Despite the obstacles, the difficulties and the problems which we all
experience, we continue to work for our Apostleship of the Sea giving
thanks with Mary Stella Maris. Those who contend with winds and tides
in the promotion of this maritime humanism and who, by the Word of God,
liturgy and service, especially for the poor, make us witnesses of
hope, in solidarity with the people of the sea.