Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
People on the Move - N° 90, December 2002, p. 55-66
Synthesis of the work done during the
Fr. Jacques HAREL
AOS Chaplain, Mauritius
Introduction: “Gather the pieces left over so that nothing will be lost.”
As we near the end of the XXI° World
Congress, I have been assigned the task of being the spokesperson for the
Synthesis Committee. What I shall
try to do is to highlight the main ideas which have come out of this week’s
work and to identify the trends and the direction in which the Congress has
been progressing. We have also gathered the main conclusions and
recommendations which will be taken into consideration in the final
document that we hope will reflect the tremendous and remarkable efforts you
have put in to this Congress this last week.
The Committee has been unanimous in saying that the
programme was well adapted and interesting and that the theme addressed the
more important issues with which the seafarers, fishers, their families and
the Chaplains and Ship Visitors in their ministry, are confronted on the
context of globalisation.
What appeared immediately is that for us of
the Apostleship of the Sea (AOS), globalisation is not a theoretical
concept but a daily reality. This
debate is timely as it is being held in an international context where
tensions are running high and many questions are being asked.
It was therefore urgent that we of the AOS should have this debate and
acquire new convictions for a better service to the people of the sea.
Therefore it is now most important that nothing be lost,
and that reminds us of Jesus after the miracle of the multiplication of bread
who says to his disciples John: 6:12. "Gather
the pieces left over so that nothing will be lost. So they gathered them all and filled 12 baskets with the
pieces left over.”
This report is divided into two parts.
The first part reflects the point that all of us heard from the
speakers. The second part will
encompass concerns raised in the workshop.
I. What was said
The first day of the Congress was devoted to the setting of the theme “The Apostleship of the Sea in a new globalised world”. H.E. Archbishop Hamao reminded us that globalisation is of great concern to the church and to the Pope and asked these questions:
“In the context of globalisation, is the AOS ready and willing to address the pastoral problems facing the people of the sea?” If so how should we go about it?
a) We tried to answer these questions by listening to
what you the participants had to say: first regional co-ordinators and through
the interventions of individuals or groups.
Your comments gave a fair idea of how you see and live globalisation
and what is its impact and effect in the daily lives of those you minister to:
b) What are the fallouts and consequences of
globalisation on the shipping and fishing industries, the fishers and maritime
and coastal communities?
I would like to close this chapter on a positive note
and remind you of the remarkable success story which is taking place in
Brazil. Thirty years ago, the
fishing profession in this part of the Brazil was considered doomed.
Thanks to the works of Fr. Alfredo Schnuetgen - the fishing pastorate
and the federation of fishers – young educated people are now becoming
fishers and their average annual income has increased while the national
average has decreased.
We have heard the “cries” of the people of the sea confronted with the full impact of globalisation. During this week we have tried to understand better this phenomenon and the challenges falling to us. You have heard, I am sure, that in Chinese the same ideogram or word character that means problems and crisis also means challenges and opportunities. During the homilies, presentations and intervention the Gospel and the teaching of the church were amply quoted and commented on.
1) On the very first day, Fr. Amado warned us that
globalization is not easy to understand and to explain, as it is experienced
today. The other challenge is
that when we speak of globalization we speak about our own life, our joys and
sufferings. Thus the danger of
being prejudiced or being led by ideologies.
He added that, it would be a great sin to use the teaching of the
gospel or the church to justify or ratify the negative effects of
Mr. Jeremy Turner of the FAO stated that the rules for
this new global economy and market are only partially written and still being
written, and are themselves the subject of considerable dispute.
On the other hand, Fr. Steckel reminded us that when confronting globalisation, we should tread humbly and carefully – in the past, members of the church had made mistakes! We should not let ourselves be unduly influenced by the powers that be and by our own national, cultural or religious interests.
However we are not without bearings.
H.E. Archbishop Hamao has reminded us that the Popes have been
“indefatigable advocates” of human rights and dignity; they have said
again and again that our world and its people, God’s creation, needs and
deserves another approach.
As early as in 1963 Pope John XXIII in a prophetic
vision, Pacem in Terris, spoke of the need for a NEW WORLD ORDER. Pope
Paul VI in 1971 urged the world to have a sense of responsibility for the
common good of mankind (Octogesima Adveniens, No. 46)
In 1991 John Paul II (Centesimus Annus No. 58)
speaks of the necessity of giving international agencies more effective power
to “oversee and direct” the global economy for the common good, to give
support to nations and people who are lost in this new order.
Again in his homily H.E. Mgr Hamao reminded us that Pope
John Paul II has urged all Christian people to make a preferential option for
the poor. That we shall be judged
not only on the orthodoxy of our teaching but especially on the way we have
loved the poor (Novo Millennio Ineunte, No. 49).
Above all human dignity must be the core value that must
be respected. Economy is for the
man and not man for economy.
Rev Sakari Lehmuskallio, ICMA President, stated that
“faced with poverty which is the worst form of violation of human dignity,
all Christian churches have a duty to witness together our common values, in
order to control the excesses of globalisation.
We shall be prophetic if we are humble, truthful, respectful of others
and not afraid of self-criticism”.
2) Many among us have tried to put forward some
explanations to help us better understand this phenomenon and why it
influences so much our daily lives. These
are some of the comments:
I would like to close this chapter with two quotations:
Fr Steckel - “The church need not be afraid of globalisation as she herself was born of a global mandate from Christ”.
Fr Armado - “The best way to transmit our message is
by testimony, to be witnesses of gratuitousness, by volunteer work – to
testify that our lives need not be built on profit alone and on accumulation
of goods and money”.
Several speakers, reminded us that our work in Rio should not remain on paper only but that it has to be turned into a “vital and productive reality”. In other words, all recommendations and conclusions have to be studied and implemented when feasible.
Now we have reached the 2nd part of our
presentation. Eight specific
topics which are especially relevant to the maritime community have been
discussed in the workshops. Now I
shall ask Msgr. Jim Dillenburg and Deacon Albert Dacanay to read those.
I.- Stella Maris Centres: present situation and
The role of Stella Maris Centres may be questioned in
this age of globalization, and so the ministry as a whole
and the ministry must be sensitive to and able to adapt to the new needs of
seafarers, fishers, and their families. The workshop highlighted the
importance of the Pastoral Care role of the Stella Maris Centres, providing
the listening ear an open dialogue and a reliable commitment to the people of
Port Welfare Committees and Pastoral Teams must be
established while the local, cultural and parish communities should be the
backbone of the ministry.
There is the urgency for openness to inter-faith
communication and cooperation.
fishermen: the forgotten seamen
500 million lives are dependent on the fishing industry.
The constraints are scarcity of stock, conflicts between industrial
fishing/factory ships and small scale traditional fishers.
Lack of access to capital, but above all man-made
constraints in the form of governance and policy issues.
The workshop recommended that there should be active
lobbying and a campaign of information so that fishers be recognized as
seafarers and thus benefiting from the ILO conventions and that new laws for
their protection be introduced. The AOS should set up a “Fishing
Commission” constituted of AOS members working with the fishers.
“Fishing Chaplaincies” should be supported by
ITF-Seafarers Trust and ICSW: new projects
ITF and ICSW realize the new challenges in the
globalized and changing shipping industry.
Quick turn-around times demand welfare service providers
to explore new working methods to meet the needs of the seafarers and fishers.
There is a growing concern about non-availability of phone line services on
The group recommended the imperative need for local
Catholic dioceses to provide
financial and manpower resources to train and develop chaplains, their staffs
and volunteers, in order to improve and continue the AOS ministry to seafarers
and fishers where it does not exist.
ship visiting” or the ICMA/SIRC so called “Sailing Chaplains”
Maritime ministry personnel have traditionally been able
to rely on the flexibility of ship’s working routine to visit seafarers’
centers and avail themselves of their facilities, etc.
Now there are new conditions that does not allow this
traditional approach. In these
circumstance, outreach schemes such as sailing chaplains and ship visiting
have become once again highly relevant.
Research, seafarers themselves and shipping companies
have made it clear that all
sailing chaplains and similar schemes provide services
of quality to seafarers, which could not be delivered otherwise. We therefore
recommend that AOS engages resolutely in the development of this program.
V.- Making the most of cyber-communication through the Stella Maris website
The AOS website is scheduled to be updated soon, making
for easier access to data facilities for seafarers, chaplains and volunteers.
It will be most effective when everyone provides short news stories to
seafarers in their various languages. Since at present the official AOS
website seems to be generally unknown, it is recommended that it be regularly
advertised in a prominent place in the AM Bulletin, with invitations to
VI.- Role of
women and families in the AOS and in the maritime community
Catholic women port communities are encouraged to find
their worth not only in baking cookies and knitting caps, but also in
contributing their expertise to social and religious questions being faced in
seafaring families. They are
further encouraged to take initiatives that will bring port communities
together to support and offer spiritual and practical guidance in the embrace
of local AOS chaplaincies.
in an ecumenical or interfaith environment, the formation of
It was agreed that interfaith and ecumenical prayer and
dialogue continue. “Failures”
are often the result of misunderstanding of basic tenets of other faiths.
A good way past this problem is to ask people directly about their
The faith of all seafarers can best be respected by
avoiding putting any pressure on anyone to participate in religious
celebrations or prayer. Instead,
seafarers should be advised that time and space is available for them to pray.
Such respect will be furthered by providing religious objects sacred to
other religions, e.g. Hindu oil lamp, Muslim carpet and scarves.
and using the ILO and IMO instruments for the wellbeing of Seafarers and
Fishers (onboard and ashore)
The FAO, ILO and IMO are presently collaborating to
revise the Code of Safety for seafarers, fishers and even fishing vessels.
They are likewise in the process of defining international work
standards for all.
There is a strong concern in the USA about seafarers not
allowed to go ashore in
the wake of the September 11th tragedy. There are comments
that many countries have not ratified the ILO maritime conventions, and if it
is ratified, they have not been implemented. We recommend that the ILO be
given, like the IMO, the power to enforce its convention.
The group recommended that AOS should urge ILO and IMO
to develop guidelines on provision of financial security
in case of abandonment of seafarers as well as ship owners
responsibility to respect contractual claims.
AOS should urge all countries and all authorities to maximize shore
leave opportunities and that welfare agencies should be allowed to visit
This synthesis, we hope, will give a reflection of the
proceeding of this Congress…which will remain memorable for the hospitality
of the Brazilian people and the conviviality of the participants.
As a conclusion, we would like to share with you three
(3) main ideas that we think have come out very strongly from the Congress:
As we hear this call for a new departure, let us
remember the words of our Lord who tells us
“Do not be afraid…I
shall be with you always.”