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Protection, justice and work for seafarers

· Benedict XVI to participants in the World Congress of the Apostleship of the Sea ·

They are a vulnerable people, exposed not only to the threat of crime, but constricted to suffer heavy restrictions to their personal freedom; they are faced with grave injustices and dealing with a crisis of incalculable proportions. The Pope speaks of people at sea and, addressing the participant in the World Congress on the Apostleship of the Sea, expressed his concern for this complex and variegated part of the world: millions of people on a pilgrimage and so many families who more than others “must face the difficulties of the present” and live “the uncertainty of the future”. For this reason, he recommended following the guidelines that developed out of the exchanges that characterised the days of the recent congress, by bearing witness to the closeness of the Church.

This was the message of the Pope's Address  on Friday morning, 23 November, during the Audience he granted to more than 400 members of the Apostleship of the Sea, representing 69 countries around the world, who gathered  together in Rome at the invitation of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, to reflect on the subject of the New Evangelization in the maritime world.

Benedict XVI spoke of the importance of the world at sea and its significant implications for the spreading of the Gospel: “Since the dawn of Christianity,” he said, “the maritime world has been an important vehicle of evangelization”. And it is the same today, for the Church continues “to sail the seas” to bring the Good News to every corner of the earth. It does this also and above thanks  to those who care for the pastoral life of people at sea. It was to them that the Pope addressed himself and asked to stay close to those  who are at Sea and live off of it, to share with them their hardships and sufferings, to bring Christ and to show “the loving face of the Church who welcomes”. The Pope reserved a special thought for the families of mariners and asked that chapels and welcoming centres in ports all over the world be turned into places where is possible to “fill the deep longing of the soul” and find a community.

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