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7/10/2014 8:13:00 AM
Seafarers remembered in prayers
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Catholics around the world are asked to remember in their prayers the 1.2 million seafarers around the world working in risky conditions far from their families to bring them goods they consume each day.

The Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, the Apostleship of the Sea and Stella Maris Centers in ports around the globe celebrate Sea Sunday July 13.

The life of a seafarer is "certainly not as romantic and adventurous as sometimes is shown in films and novels," Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio,  council president, said in a message marking Sea Sunday 2014.

"The life of seafarers is difficult and dangerous," he said, not only because of storms, but also because of the ongoing risk of piracy and too many instances of crews being abandoned without wages, food or protection in foreign ports.

Even in the best weather and with the best working conditions, the cardinal said, long hours and homesickness are a seafarer's constant companions.

"A ship is economically viable only when sailing and, therefore, must continually sail from one port to another. The mechanization of cargo-handling operations has reduced the time of berthing and the free time of crew members, while security measures have restricted the opportunities to go ashore," he said.

Most seafarers have only occasional, limited access to telephones, email and other means of instant communication with family and friends, he said. "In most cases, children are born and grow up without their presence, thus increasing the sense of loneliness and isolation that  accompanies their life."

The Stella Maris Centers and other Catholic or ecumenical outreach programs for seafarers offer the workers a warm reception, a relaxing atmosphere, phones or computers for checking in with their families, as  well as Mass and spiritual assistance.

The Apostleship of the Sea, Cardinal Veglio said, also engages in advocacy work, "denouncing abuses and injustices, defending the rights  of the people of the sea and asking the maritime industry and individual  governments to respect international conventions."

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