February 18, 2011.
The Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People is the Vatican department dedicated to serving those who have no permanent residence. The council met in Rome to discuss how they can help the crews of fishing vessels. One of the main problems that these seafarers have to deal with is piracy and hijackings. Because of this, the Apostleship of the Sea has studied how they can assist families in these situations. Fr. Dirk Damaegth
Chaplain, Apostleship of the Sea (Belgium)“To be a chaplain in the fishery you must live together with them, to be with them, you must listen to their problems.”
One of the main problems that these seafarers have to deal with is piracy and hijackings. Because of this, the Apostleship of the Sea has studied how they can assist families in these situations. Pirate attacks continue to strike, especially in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa. Such as this hijacking of an Italian oil tanker off the coast of Oman with 22 people on board. Fr. Dirk Damaegth
Chaplain, Apostleship of the Sea (Belgium)“When I became chaplain I met many calamities. Whole crews, we lost whole crews. Four, five, six men with the vessel. I have learned that in Belgium, despite that we are a modern country, we have nothing to help the families.”Admiral Pierluigi Cacioppo
Italian Coast Guard“This period is especially being devoted to assist the families of the sailors kidnapped by pirates. It's a new activity in which we are working with all the international representatives of the Apostleship of the Sea. We are studying a protocol, a series of actions to help families in these situations.”
But besides the fishing vessels, the sea is also home to a growing phenomenon: cruise ships. This is one of the new challenges that was discussed at the meeting: how to spiritually assist tourist and crew members while they are on vacation at sea.Admiral Pierluigi Cacioppo
Italian Coast Guard“They bring together thousands of people, because of this the Apostleship of the Sea considers it important to have a chaplain there to help those who need spiritual help. Since these cruisers are multi-ethnic and multi-religious, it's necessary to have a spiritual lighthouse in a broad sense.”
While the ship owners are responsible for the safety of it's passengers, the Apostleship of the Sea is responsible for their spiritual and psychological support. Founded in 1920 in Glasgow, Scotland, it soon had the support of Pope Pius XI. Their aim is to help these sailors be Christian witnesses in their environment at sea.
Ninety years after its founding, the Apostleship of the Sea is on every continent and after this meeting they have plans to open three new centers in South Africa, Brazil and Taiwan to also strengthen the Christian message at sea.