Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
on the Move
N° 106 (Suppl.-I), April 2008
OF THE CHOICE OF THE THEME
“In Solidarity with the
People of the Sea as Witnesses of Hope,
through Proclamation of the Word, Liturgy and
preparation to the next AOS World Congress, we have received
numerous suggestions to the effect that its theme should be
“pastoral” and that we should take this occasion
to better understand our vocation and pastoral commitment in favor
of the People of the Sea. We believe that
this suggestion is timely, as there has already been many
initiatives and efforts in that direction in many parts of the world
in recent years. The word “pastoral” is taken here in the wide sense,
as we do not want to exclude in our apostolate anything that is
inherent to the life and work of the men and women of the sea.
It is hoped that this will be also an
opportunity for AOS to reflect on and take stock on what
constitutes its spirituality and its specific contribution to the
maritime profession remains today one of the most difficult,
demanding and dangerous occupations in the world. The seafarers,
fishers and their families are facing all manners of difficulties
and dangers and they are the first ones to suffer the negative
effects of globalization (see Final Document of Rio World Congress,
2002). Our reflection and commitment towards the people of the sea
is rooted in the conviction expressed by the Second Vatican Council
that: “The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of
the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way
afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of
the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to
raise an echo in their hearts” (Gaudium
et Spes, Preface).
new pressures and new threats against the working and living
conditions of seafarers and their families, AOS vocation is to stand
alongside them, in their struggle for more dignity when their rights
are ignored and “to support the work of the faithful who are called
to witness to their Christian life in this sphere” (Motu Proprio,
Stella Maris, Art I). In a world which is increasingly marked by
lack of hope, we do so by keeping the virtue of hope alive in our
hearts and by looking for the signs of its presence in the maritime
world. As “ Church we have the responsibility of reading the
signs of time and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel…
we should be able to answer the ever recurring questions which men
ask about the meaning of this present life and of the life to come.
….We must be able to understand the aspirations, the yearnings and
the often dramatic features of the world in which we live “ (G.S.
N°4).With this in mind we shall, during the Congress, examine our
present and future involvement as a Church organization in a
maritime world in constant evolution, with particular reference to
merchant ships, fishing vessels, cruise ships, yachts, port
workers, seafarers’ family organizations, maritime students, etc.
reflection and consultation it was decided that our Congress be
“developed” around 2 main notions: “witnessing” and “hope” inspired
by 1 Peter 3:15-17:“ Always be ready to give an answer when
someone asks you about your hope. Give a kind and respectful answer
and keep your conscience clear.” These two realities will be
articulated around Proclamation of the Word, Liturgy and Diakonia,
bearing in mind the Holy Father Benedict
XVI’s teaching in his Encyclical “Deus Caritas Est”:
“The Church's deepest nature is expressed in her
three-fold responsibility: of proclaiming the Word of God (kerygma-martyria),
celebrating the Sacraments (leitourgia), and exercising the ministry
of charity (diakonia). These duties presuppose each other and are
inseparable. For the Church, charity is not a kind of welfare
activity which could equally well be left to others, but is a part
of her nature, an indispensable expression of her very being”
(N. 25). This Congress will be a time for AOS to interrogate itself
about its commitment to these three-fold responsibilities which
constitute the essence of all pastoral activities.
of the proclamation of the Word in the Apostleship of the Sea.
celebration of the Sacraments as the source and “raison d’ętre” of
our pastoral care.
service to all but especially to the poorest as the priority and
hallmark of AOS.
also included the term solidarity in the theme for two reasons.
First, as we are going to Gdynia, which is 20 km from Gdansk, the
birthplace of the “Solidarnosc” movement, we have thought that it
would be fitting to render a tribute to
the Polish labour movement Solidarity, which was instrumental in
bringing such great historical changes and finally made possible
Europe's reunification. The second reason is more theological as we
believe that our mission is God’s vocation realized “in solidarity”
with the maritime world by sharing the lives of those who are part
of it. The context marked by secularism and, at the same time, by a
growing multireligious and multicultural reality, is also a reminder
that AOS has a great tradition of ecumenical and inter-religious
dialogue and of cooperation “in solidarity” with every man and woman
of good will.
pray that this next World Congress be a time of grace for the AOS
and that our reflection, prayer and sharing will enable us to
progress in our mission to reach out, as members of the Church, to
all the People of the Sea. As we set forth on this new journey of
faith, hope and love, we confide to Mary the “Stella Maris”, our
Congress and we ask her for her protection and guidance.
Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care
of Migrants and Itinerant People