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Rome Reports

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Pope grants port chaplains ability to forgive sins only the Holy See can absolve

The pope met with priests and lay people who provide spiritual care to sailors, fishermen and their families. They were accompanied by Card. Peter Turkson.

“Holy Father, your presence is a source of great joy and an honor for us.”

They are from the association “Stella Maris apostolate.” The pope thanked them for their work and his awareness of the difficulties these people are confronted with. 

The life of a sailor or fisherman is not only marked by isolation and distance. At times, it is also painfully affected by shameful experiences of abuse and injustice, by the snares of those engaged in human trafficking, and by the extortion of forced labor. At other times, they are not paid their rightful salary or are left behind in distant ports.

In order to help them better, the pope asked them to visit often sailors on their ships, and to spend time with them in their ports. 

Additionally, he granted to all port chaplains the ability to give absolution to sins reserved to the Holy See. This includes such sin as the profanation of the Eucharist or the violation of the secret of confession. 

Your daily visits to the ships enable you to encounter people in concrete situations, at times serene, at other times anxious or even deeply troubled. With compassion and discretion, you give them a chance to pour out their hearts. This is the first and most precious service that you provide, above all to those who have few similar opportunities.

The organization “Stella Maris apostolate” was founded almost 100 years ago in Scotland, and both lay people and priests belong to it.