Catholic World News

Vatican message highlights plight of seafarers’ families

July 10, 2017

Cardinal Peter Turkson, the prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, discussed the challenges faced by seafarers in his message for Sea Sunday.

“In spite of the great progress in technology, which has improved communication between seafarers and their loved ones, the long months away from the family are still a huge sacrifice that often reflects negatively on family life,” he wrote in his July 9 message. “Mothers are left alone, forced to play multiple roles with children growing up with an absent father. It is important that in our pastoral ministry, we pay special attention to the families of seafarers by initiating and supporting the creation of seafarer’s wives groups to provide mutual care and assistance.”

Cardinal Turkson also called for greater communication among crew members to prevent isolation and suicide, as well a greater respect for seafarers’ internationally recognized right to “have access to shore-based facilities and services.”

The prelate also deplored economic injustices against mariners:

Too many are still the cases of crews cheated out of their salary, exploited and abused in their work, unjustly criminalized for maritime accidents and abandoned in foreign ports. While it is our duty to provide all the necessary assistance and support to crews that are experiencing hardship and difficulties, on the other hand we would like to call on all the maritime authorities to be more vigilant and attentive in intervening to prevent abuses and redress any wrongdoing.

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