Pope Prays for Dignity and Security of Those at Sea

On Eve of World Maritime Day

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 26, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II prayed on Sunday for the dignity and security of those who work at sea, and reminded pilgrims that World Maritime Day will be observed this Thursday.

«My thoughts go out to all who work at sea, and I pray that they may be able to live with dignity and security,» he said after praying the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo.

World Maritime Day is promoted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). With 164 members and dependent on the United Nations, the IMO’s purpose is to promote security at sea and prevent contamination caused by ships.

The theme of the Day this year is “IMO: Focus on Maritime Security.” In his 2004 message for World Maritime Day, the IMO’s Secretary General, Efthimios E. Mitropoulos, addresses the problem of security at sea in times of terrorism.

The message ends: «May we never have to suffer the bitter and painful experience of a terrorist attack against maritime navigation.»

To assist people who live and work at sea, the Holy See founded the Apostleship of the Sea in 1922. Today the institution depends on the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrant and Itinerant Peoples.

The purpose of this apostleship, which has members in 98 countries, is «to respond to the spiritual, social, and material well-being of seamen in merchant and fishing vessels. This assistance is also extended to their families, without distinction of culture, nationality, or religion,» the Vatican explains in its Web page.

In the apostolic letter «Stella Maris,» Jan. 31, 1997, John Paul II established the guidelines and norms that govern this apostleship.

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