In the 100th anniversary year of the Apostleship of the Sea/Stella Maris, the new Pope Video for August 2020 focuses on sailors, fishermen and their families, whose lives are afflicted with many difficulties and challenges.
In recent years, several reports by international media of communications have revealed the harsh working conditions which exist in the maritime industry. The book Fishers and Plunderers – Theft, Slavery and Violence at Sea (2015) revealed that fishermen and sailors have the most dangerous profession in the world, and are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. In the worst cases, they are subjected to human trafficking and live in conditions similar to slavery. The European Maritime Safety Agency declared in a report that, between 2011 and 2020, there were 745 work-related fatalities among maritime workers and nearly 9,000 persons injured, among other tragic statistics of this sector.
The concern of the Pope for the challenges that are faced by maritime workers and their families each day range from “abandonment in distant ports” and “forced labour” to “industrial fishing and contamination.” Through impact images provided by the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), the video shows the challenges sea workers and their families face every day. The Holy Father also emphasizes, in the midst of this alarming situation, that “without the people of the sea, many parts of the world would starve.” Indeed, more than three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their sustenance, not to mention the fact that the fishing industry employs, directly or indirectly, more than 200 million people.
Sr Siobhan O’Keeffe SHJM, author of I am With You Always, Living with Loneliness, reflects on the Pope’s intention in Living Prayer 2020. She says, “Our world cries out for healing and renewal. May we place our hand into the hand of the God who calmed the seas that his beautiful gift of creation may be restored and all whose lives depend on the fruits of the ocean be protected, this day and always. As one, may we rejoice and give thanks. Amen.”
Click on the link above to watch the video.