Cardinal Michael Czerny, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, released a message on Monday 3 July to mark Sea Sunday on 9 July.
The day, which is observed on the second Sunday of July each year, highlights the essential work over a million seafarers do throughout the year, drawing attention to their hardships and needs, and offers an opportunity for Christians to pray for them and their families.
Indeed, thanks to these workers “our daily lives become possible and the economy is sustained”, the message remarks. “Yet we know hardly anything about them, about their faith, or about how they love and hope”. Many are forced to stay away from their loved ones and don’t even have access to spiritual services during their long months at sea.
“The complex organisation of our society and a certain propensity to hide inequalities often leaves in the shadows the spiritual treasures and the material needs of humble people.”
The Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, therefore recalls that Sea Sunday is not reserved for seafarers, but “calls the attention of every Christian community to those thanks to whom we receive a great part of the goods that nourish us and that we use every day”.
“To those who are at sea may this resounding, choral message reach you: the Church is near you. Whatever brings you joy and whatever oppresses you is close to our hearts.”
However, the Church not only has something to give to seafarers, but also to receive from them: “We want also to receive your story, your testimonies, your point of view about work, about the economy, about the relations between religions and diverse cultures, about the conditions at sea and on the earth, and about faith”, Cardinal Czerny writes. “Your experience can reach and challenge all the members of the Church, and through them, our societies”.
“We are a synodal Church, in which we walk together. We should go forward together, navigating together, without leaving anyone behind, and enriching one another. No one should think that they have nothing to offer.”
Hence the Church’s commitment for this year’s celebration to renew efforts to “get closer to each other in an ongoing exchange” that would make seafarers’ work “ less far from the daily experience and the faith of all”.
The message concludes by invoking the intercession of Mary, the Star of the Sea, and for her to be a “font of consolation and perseverance”.