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 Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of the Migrants and Itinerant People

XXI World Congress of Apostolatus Maris

Concluding observations*

Archbishop Agostino MARCHETTO

Secretary of the Pontifical Council

It is  enough to say that our 21st World Congress is the first of a new Millennium of the Christian era to understand its importance and its perspectives. This is reaffirmed by the theme we have chosen, “Apostleship of the Sea in a New Globalized World”. We have to keep together these two realities: apostleship (that is presence, incarnation, salvation, evangelisation, celebration of the Word of God and of the Sacraments) and our world, our human and universal family, which is nowadays more and more characterised by globalization. In other words, there is the necessity to maintain our specificity – to be found in Lumen Gentium of the Vatican Council, for the vision of the Church ad intra,  and in Gaudium et Spes in its presentation  of the Church ad extra - and to take into consideration the new world which is about to be born at the beginning of this Third Millennium. May I exhort you in this perspective to read again Novo Millennio Ineunte.

Our point of reference remains specifically, in the context of the documents of the Vatican Council, the Apostolic Letter Stella Maris. The real value of this Letter is that it provides a basic structure for our work , and, very usefully, draws attention to the basic call within which the Christians, who form the “People of the Sea”, can live out their baptismal vocation and truly be the Church incarnated in the maritime world.

Therefore, in spite of the ‘newness’ here of our dialogue and discussions, of structures, of globalization, and of the millennium, it is important to realise that there is a continuity with the past, something  which does not change, that cannot change, and that we do not have to change. This in so even if, in present historiography, after the great vision of continuity proposed by Braudel and the “School of the Annales”, we have an exaltation of the “event”, as something new, revolutionary and extraordinary.

We, especially in the Catholic Church, also have to stress - as I have said –Tradition (with capital T), I repeat, continuity.


In fact the mission entrusted by Jesus to his Apostles has been, remains now and will continue to be, the one and same mission for all time and place. We are sent on our mission, in virtue of our baptism, to live the life of love and reconciliation, which Jesus shares with us, and to witness to the Father’s tenderness and compassion.

Because of this continuity, I would like to remark here that the Apostolatus Maris logo  and the traditional name of Stella Maris, for our Centres, have to be maintained everywhere.

Stella Maris  of Pope John Paul II envisages the ‘People of the Sea’ as forming the Church in the maritime world, and the fullness of Church requires a Successor to the Apostles, a Bishop, in communion with the apostolic Collegium, “cum Petro et sub  Petro” and his successor today, Pope  John-Paul II. Since our Pontifical Council has been delegated a sharing in his solicitude we have to consider the specific role of the Bishops in A. M.

It is particularly gratifying that many Bishops have come to this Congress and taken an active part in it. In fact, in Rome, I started my interview about this Congress to Vatican Radio by daring to say that it will be a small “synod”. The Apostolic Letter recognises the role of the Bishop-Promoter of A.M., which is to pastorally oversee, through the National Chaplain or Director, the ministry of A. M. in the territory of his Episcopal Conference.

I therefore thank the Bishop – Promoters, both those here present and all others, for their efforts. The local Bishop, the Bishop of the port, has a vital role especially because he ultimately appoints the local Chaplain, who is basic for the A. M.  We encourage of course our brothers in the episcopate to urge all Bishops to recognise and stress the presence and action of A. M. in their

dioceses, especially the maritime ones. It is a fact that there are ports, some of them major ports, and indeed whole regions, where A. M. does not exist or exists in a relatively weak way.

This is true especially for Latin America, and we hope that the celebration of our Congress in Rio will help the Ecclesia in America start anew its ecclesial service to the maritime world.

The presence here, with Bishops, priests, deacons, religious men and women, of a great and qualified number of lay people gives me the opportunity to stress their important and specific role in A. M., “servatis servandis” in ecclesiastical terminology.

They will become more and more necessary, also because of the lack of ordained ministers in many parts of the world. This growing engagement in the service of evangelisation and human promotion merits a particular attention, as both are very deeply linked.

In this context may I add that the Apostolic Letter Stella Maris states that relations  between A. M. and International Organisations with similar aims pertains to our Pontifical Council.

Unity in diversity

Of course  A. M. works in somewhat different ways in various countries, cultures and situations. World-wide, A. M. is not to be seen as a pyramid, operating from the top downwards in uniformly structured ways at all levels and in all places. Rather-to use the happy image of Card. Cheli at the end of last Congress- “it is like a galaxy of stars, no two exactly alike, some very large and bright, others smaller and dimmer, but none the less shining and giving light and heat. It is like a confederation (or communion, to say it more theologically) of various initiatives by local Churches and by the  Church on board, all of them animated by the same Spirit, the Spirit Who proceeds from the Father and the Son, given to us, through faith, in baptism, and sharing in the one and same mission”.

In this mission we are not alone, and so Rev. Berend van Dijken and Rev. Sakari Lehmuskallio helped us beautifully to put ourselves in the spirit of ecumenical cooperation, essential in confronting the challenges of globalization, sharing, all of us, in the pastoral care of Mr. Eddie Luceno, Ms. Karen Lai, Ms. Maria Terezinha da Costa and Mr. Tony McAvoy, in their own specific role.

To end this part of my concluding talk, may I remind you to stress the importance of the Pastoral of the Sea, that the 15th Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the pastoral care of Migrants and Itinerant People, which took place from 29th april to 1st May this year in the Vatican, reflected on the pastoral opportunities and challenges arising from the world of human mobility, which is intimately bound with the vastness of the sea and on the means to address them (see “People on the Move” N. 88-89).

[The Sea

In his address the Holy Father encouraged us to recognise the many opportunities to bring the presence of Christ the Good  Shepherd and his  Good News into the roads and sea lanes of humanity as well to promote respect for the dignity of the individuals, families, environment and cultures that are linked to the sea.

Among the conclusions of the Plenary Assembly, may I quote the following ones:

1. Human mobility is an increased feature of globalization. Because of this there are new barriers and challenges to be faced, in which God also offers us new pastoral possibilities. The Church must accept these new challenges by being the good Samaritan on the roads   and sea lanes of humanity, promoting solidarity in migration, likewise through the exercise of charity.  

Taking into consideration the theme of the Plenary, "Relationships between Sea and Migration and between Sea and Tourism," the sea stands out as the means of transportation in a new era of migration unitìng people of all continents in fraternity, dialogue, and commerce but, at the same time, provoking xenophobic and even racist reactions when it carries asylum-seekers and migrants, and hiding the daily human drama of seafarers and fisher folk.

Tourism - on the shores and at sea - is also constantly increasing as a feature of globalization, again with positive and negative aspects for the people and places that host tourists and for these visitors themselves.

 2.  Since human mobility is by definition a phenomenon of movement and change that expands almost uncontrollably beyond usually conceived boundaries, cooperation and solidarity on the international and regional levels needs to be newly emphasized. That applies also to the Church, whose Lord likewise calls every one of its members to promote communion, solidarity and cooperation, especially in this field, among particular and local Churches as well as in the ecumenical and inter-religious arena.

3. Evermore evangelization in the Third Millennium demands renewed thrust and pastoral planning according to the letter and the spirit of Novo Millennio Ineunte. In the growing world of tourism, that means assuring the Pilgrim Church is present, to make tourism more worthy of human beings, breathing a new spirit into it, offering occasions for new encounters with God and brothers and sisters of other cultures and religions. In this way tourism will contribute to the dialogue among civìlizations. This  could be considered a kind of new evangelizatìon, in which the lay faithful will have special responsibilities, also with the contribution of the ecclesìal movements.   

4.  The Church in a globalized world is called in every way to intensify its role as promoter and animator of solidarity and respect for human dignity and fondamental rights, which are so often threatened also by new forms of slavery and exploitation. This role likewise extends to regard for cultures and cultural identities, sacred places, including those of other religions, and the environment.]

Globalization and A.M.

Our calling to witness our baptism is realised in a changing world – we have heard –, in changing and indeed rapidly–changing circumstances. In one word we call it “globalization”.

We heard, after having had the “Setting the Theme” by our President, the intervention of Fr. Dr. Joel Portella Amado, combining “Globalization and Faith”. The phenomenon of particular interest during this Congress was seen and referred to us by the representatives of the AOS Regions, a remarkable vision, which was completed with an historical background from the “Padroado” presented by Fr. Dr. Edvino A. Steckel.

We also experienced deeply in ourselves  the consequences of globalization in today’s seafarers and families, in  those who work in industrial fishing, and also in small scale and traditional fishing, not forgetting the cruise industry in rapid  development, in the context of some perspectives of globalization. We have listened to experiences, studies and excellent presentations through the kind and wise presence of Hon. Peter Morris, Mr. Jeremy Turner, Mr. David Ardill, Rev. Bruno Ciceri, Ms. Josette Laharrague, Ms. Engracia Micayabas, Mr. Antonio Fritz, Mr. Claudio Décourt, Fr. Thomas X. Kocherry, Mr. Félix Randrianasoavina, Fr. João van der Heijen, Deacon Renato Causa, Dr. Minghua Zhao. We have also shared in the tragic situations of the abandoned seafarers and have been informed about “shore leaves and identity documents” thanks to the expertise of Mr. Angel Llorente and Mr. Douglas B. Stevenson. Heartfull thanks to everyone.

A very moving part of our Congress has been the personal statements or testimonies presented by individuals. We could say: Here are the “People of the Sea” talking about themselves.

These testimonies, especially in the workshops (with eight topics), together with much of the content of Regional Reports, have given freshness and realism to our analysis. The maritime world is first of all most a world of people, not just of fish, transport and industrial concerns, people who more and more feel they are “small people” and getting even smaller in a world of big business, big money, (the financial aspect of globalization is the biggest one and the most significant of the phenomenon) and big ships.

So often, as we have heard, they consider themselves unimportant, marginalized, forgotten. Through the flags-of-convenience system and in other ways, they are exposed to injustice and exploitation.

I make an appeal from this Congress to all A. M. people around the world that they continue to welcome, serve and support all seafarers, whatever their differences of culture, nationality and religion, and stand by them and help them in solidarity in their struggles for justice. This will only be a small seed of a new world, more human and more fraternal, but an important seed.

It is wonderful when this can be done, through a Stella Maris Centre or an ecumenical Seafarers’ Centre as a base. I want it to be clearly said, that the work of A. M. does not depend only on such buildings and, what is more, the buildings cannot replace what is really important: a welcoming heart. Chaplaincy teams can be formed from among the members of parishes in port cities, big and small, in fishing villages and coastal communities, and so on. These teams, with the guidance and support of the local priest and from the National Director of A. M.,  can live out that basic Christian Mission by welcoming seafarers and visiting ships in port. This desire and exhortation were  expressed five years ago during the 20th Congress and are still actual and important. Let us hope that during the next five years there will be a multiplication of such “small” A. M. groups.

From “small” groups to bigger ones. ..

The rapid improvement in communications through fax machines and e-mail means that co-ordination and co-operation ( we could also say “communion”) between A. M. Organisations in different Countries and regions will become easier. We offer  thanks to the Regional Coordinators for their work up to now, likewise in preparation, for this Congress. Over the years the role and the work of the Regional Coordinators  will become, more and more important. I wish them courage and strength.

Globalization in general and its “governance”

Even if I am not an economist, after having considered globalization particularly under the aspect of negative consequences for our “brothers and sisters of the Sea” (with an implicit appeal to globalize solidarity ), I would like to encourage you to overcome the temptation to pass an ideological judgement on this phenomenon.

Here the Teaching of Pope John-Paul II, can be very helpful.

In his speech to the members of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences on 27th of April, last year, the Holy Father said: “Globalization, a priori, is neither good nor bad. It will be what people make of it. No system is an end in itself and it is necessary to insist that globalization, like any other system, must be at the service of the human person; it must serve solidarity and the common good”. I shall add another short passage of the above-mentioned speech, which is very significant: “Globalization must not be a new version of colonialism. It must respect the diversity of cultures. As humanity embarks upon the process of globalization, it can no longer do without a common code of ethics”.

May I add some considerations of the Magisterium on “governance” of this globalization.

And here, since I come from Vicenza (Italy), I take pleasure in starting, first of all, with the speech by Pope John Paul II to the participants of the meeting organized by the Foundation “Ethics and Politics” of Bassano del Grappa. The summarizing title in L’Osservatore Romano seems to me well-chosen and significant: “Globalization of solidarity is needed by means of a new culture, new norms, and new institutions, both at national and international levels” (Italian edition, 18 May 2001, page 4).

The need for a “world political authority” has been mentioned by the late Card. F. X. Nguyên Van Thuân. He emphasized that governance does not mean automatically government. [ Here are his very words:

The governance of the new economy needs, however, also juridical and political structures, able to direct the huge potentialities of the common good. This is to be done, aware that the human being, as the Centesimus annus claimed, is at the same time ‘a saint and a sinner’. The Social Doctrine of the Church continues to support the need of a “public authority with a world-wide sphere of activity” (John XXIII, in Pacem in Terris, 137). This is most in demand today since the phenomena of the new economy are, precisely, world-wide. But governance does not automatically mean government. The principles of graduality and subsidiarity imply both a realism with which to proceed by increasing the present international instruments, improving their performance and mutual relations and making the various participants more responsible and empowering them to act. We can see the necessity of increasing the ‘coordination among the more powerful countries’ (John Paul II,  Centesimus Annus, N.58), to transfer the knowledge and technology to the poor countries,

given ‘the easy transfer of resources and of means of production’ (John Paul II, Speech to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences of the 25th April 1997, N.4) enabled by new technologies, coordination which can facilitate today those processes of subsidiary solidarity, to better recall the initiative of the International Financial Institutes with authentic needs of the poor Countries and the actors of the civil society of these Countries” (L’Osservatore Romano, Italian edition, 9-10 July 2001, page 8)].

[So] the dialectic between global and no global is abstract and ideological. In fact much of the present debate on globalization and its causes and effects is distorted by prejudices, etymologically speaking, which seem to follow a tradition of mechanics based on the dynamic analysis of impersonal forces, [as it was asserted, not a long time ago, by Prof. Simona Beretta, whose thoughts I am here referring to].

In very simplified terms, it is as if two major currents are being confronted: on the one hand, the “laissez-faire” neo-capitalistic current supporting a globalization that is present in the DNA of the economic processes, where the “market” goes beyond the national boundaries creating huge accumulation of wealth (and keeping in mind that only after having created as much wealth as possible, will it be possible then to distribute it). On the other hand, the no global current resists this market trend for the sake of anti-market objectives, because the world is not “on sale”.

[These two positions, and the broader conflict between them, follow the track of an ancient debate between “State” and “market”, to take the approach in a simple way.

These two social realities were seen as two absolutely opposite entities, each one dominated by a rationality of its own, and both in a natural contradiction one with the other. So in the debate at that time, “more State” would have meant “less market” and vice-versa.

But both positions suffer from the same drawback as we said: they excessively trust in “providential” mechanisms (the State, for some of them, and free markets, for others) to satisfy human needs. We don’t know of the existence of easy recipes to reach these desires that take shape in conditions of “strong” uncertainty and find no answer in the “providential” mechanisms. The answer can only be found thanks to the reality of time and taking risks that is desired as something one wagers on and carried out in freedom and responsibility by an “actor” who interacts with others].

The neo-capitalistic laissez-faire and the no global  movements stand behind opposite barricades, but from the cultural point of view, they are the offsprings of the same bad anthropology and the same partial vision of economic and political dynamisms. [Nevertheless, it is important to restore a principle of reality: it is not true that the anonymous and impersonal markets produce the best of the welfare, because the most important transactions (those affecting the investments and the credit) have to deal with time as well as uncertainty and can easily take place into a personalized relationship which is most likely to last. For the same reason, it is not true that the State produces the maximum of the social well-being: the State as well does not have all the information needed to make the right choices and is not gifted with a “superior brain”].

What seems to be a more realistic perspective is to focus on the importance of the deliberate actions of the various “actors”, in the economic field, especially the most numerous ones, the social interaction modalities and the emerging and functioning institutions. In this scenario we can make out three categories of “actors” who can push forward or oppose international integration processes: the national States, with “actors” of the domestic politics; the economic integration “actors”; and the democratic partecipation’s “actors”.

Let’s try to outline the fundamentals that create an interaction between markets, governments and the civil society, in economic integration processes. It can be represented in synthesis, by the significant image of an “incompatible trio”. It is as if the globalized present world is confronted by three different forces, each one justified in itself but not in harmony with the other two (for further reference see D. Rodrik, “How Far Will International  Economic Integration Go?  in Journal of Economic Perspectives, vol. 14 (2000), N. 1, pp. 177-186).

[The first of these forces is the tendency by the national States, (i.e. the present holders of the political power and of some economic power) to keep their sovereignty in their hands. The second force is the tendency to a deeper and deeper integration of the markets related to goods and services, as well as of the structures and factors of production, and especially of the financial markets. A third important force, which can be summarized under the title of “democratic participation” in the economic and political events of globalization, expresses itself in different and multiple modalities. They vary from opposition to the globalization processes to the attempt to guide them by means of consensus (from the part of public influence, tending to be global) of those groups with particular interests and requirements or to the participation by the non-governmental organizations in the decisions of international institutions. The “incompatible trio” principle affirms that these three forces can find an institutionally balanced position if taken in groups of two, but not the three of them together, unless helped by a favourable ‘astral’ conjunction.

For instance, the economic integration objective entails a multiple choice, actually double, that is keeping the Nation-State, which will assist in reducing its actual economic influence, while still  ruling and exploiting most domestic resources.

The other alternative consists in the progressive replacement of a national approach to regulation and economic policies by a system of so called “global federalism”, characterized by a political participation of the masses. Civil society here becomes the supranational government main interlocutor.

Similarly, a government characterised by a large number of groups focused on various interests compels us to select between two alternatives: either the participation and safeguard of interests by those groups within the Nation-State that renounce economic integration (and adopt protectionist politics where the open markets harm the domestic interests) or, vice-versa, participation in the world governance processes with laws and institutions setting the range of market integration.

Again, if we want to preserve the Nation-State in its area of economic supremacy, we may choose between political participation of the masses and economic integration. In fact a country which is well integrated in the international markets of goods and capital can keep a firm control on its economic resources provided that the “game rules” of the global market are respected and that it can resist the opposition of the third force represented by those pressure groups that feel endangered by global integration of markets (see the developed countries’ trade-unions or even the sectors of the domestic production traditionally protected by national politics).

In the incompatible “trio pattern”, what does the trend to economic integration produce, after having been introduced by the free enterprise supporters? It depends essentially on the choice of the force which has been selected as an ally. In the “first” globalization, the allied force, supported by entrepreneurs, merchants and bankers, still clearly “national”, was each national State. It was not by chance that their ally found its institutional stability due to the dramatic reduction, at that time, of the expressions of a democratic participation (limited voting right, side role of the trade-union Organizations). On account of the dependence of the national State force on the one of the national enterprises, the institutional situation was weakened by the possibility of conflicts among Nation-States in order to defend national, political and economic interests (conflicts which actually and dramatically appeared). Nowadays, perhaps, the prevailing tendency towards the economic integration, brought about by “actors” now loosely bound to a particular Nation-State, could anticipate a completely different institutional scenario, where the Nation-States would find themselves in competition to gain the localization of production on their territory.

This would mean  a “downwards rush” scenario complying with work and environmental standards, in capital taxation and in profits. This is not particulary attractive, especially for business people; but, to look further, this pattern can be avoided by strengthening supranational governance processes and by reducing the Nation-State to a “smaller space”, thus improving their capacity, from an organizational point of view, to be respectful of social welfare].

Therefore I conclude, there is not only one globalization, loved or hated according to the preliminary neo-capitalistic or no global opinions, and this is worthwhile to note.

[They come at least in two different, elementary ways, according to the interaction resulting from the three forces that have been identified.

Maybe, mine is a too long and difficult analysis about this matter of great concern, but] it is necessary, I think, not to be too simplistic in our approach about globalization and to avoid an ideological vision. Ideologies are over…in spite of everything, as is attested in the following passage of the Holy Father’s Message for the World Day of Peace, January 1st, 2000. I quote:

There is urgent need to reconsider the models which inspire development policies.

In this regard, the legitimate requirements of economic efficiency must be better aligned with the requirements of political participation and social justice, without falling back into the ideological mistakes made during the twentieth century. In practice, this means making solidarity an integral part of network of economic, political and social interdependence which the current process of globalization is tending to consolidate.

These processes call for rethinking international cooperation in terms of a new culture of solidarity. When seen as a sowing of peace, cooperation cannot be reduced to aid or assistance, especially if given with an eye to the benefits to be received in return for the resources made available. Rather, it must express a concrete and tangible commitment to solidarity which makes the poor the agents of their own development and enables the greatest number of people, in their specific economic and political circumstances, to exercise the creativity which is characteristic of human person and on which the wealth of nations too is dependent.

This is a great task [experts, decision makers and leaders will need the courage to find opportunities for lasting relationships, inclusive and involving. Any economic enterprise, as well as any political initiative, if it is to be born and grow, needs  first a friendly approach and an awareness that there are risks and that we are putting ourselves at stake. This is the way to do business. And in this way, the polis – and maybe the world – will become a better place to live].

Where do we go

I think that here lies at least part of the answer to the question that is now on our lips: Where do we go from Rio de Janeiro?

We think a  lot of important work has been done at this Congress, both here on the rostrum and behind the scenes. We believe the Spirit was blowing in Rio especially   during these days of analysis, prayer, celebration, discussion and dialogue. We believe that seeds have been sown that will bear fruit over the next few years in a stronger Apostolatus Maris throughout the world.

We have caught a lot of fish. We have had a good cruise and transported many containers. Let us go back to our work, (still with other fish, transport and cruises) to our apostolate, with joy, satisfaction and a renewed spirit.

Farewell and gratitude

To conclude, I think a word of farewell and especially of gratitude is necessary from the part of the Pontifical Council I am speaking also in the name of our President, Archbishop Hamao. 

The first goes to Archbishop Eusebio O. Scheid, to his Clergy, to the Religious women and men and to the Lay people who have generously  contributed to our Congress, through their time or money. I would also like to say in a special way how grateful we are to Father Claudio Ambrosio and to his team of volunteers for the tremendous amount of work they have done for us. They have our friendship and they deserve a big applause…

And now I would like to thank each one of you: you are the Congress, like a small universal “synod”. You are the AOS, you are those who take the Gospel, the tenderness and compassion of the Lord of mercy, into the blue world!

Our gratitude also goes to Antonella Farina (ladies first!), Fr. Tronche and Fr. Harel. They are extremely dedicated people who do not spare time and sacrifices to carry out their very demanding task. And thanks also to Fr. Andrea, who accompanied us to help in the administrative field “una tantum”, and to Fr. Bruno Ciceri, from Taiwan To the interpreters also our heartfelt thanks because we know that they have had to face a very tough job.

To all those who have helped make our liturgical celebrations living moments of beautiful praise to God and upliftment for our spirits we wish to say a warm “Thank you”!

I do not want to forget the manager and personnel of the Guanabara Palace Hotel who have been patient, kind and accommodating in all our needs. To them go our sincere gratitude.

Let us remain united in prayer and christian love, and may Almighty and Merciful God pour upon  us his gracious blessing. May Mary, Star of the Sea, guide us to the everlasting port of Heaven, for She is the Mother of God. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Thank you!

[*] Archbishop Marchetto did not read the paragraphs between brackets