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Pope Francis: to Chaplains of Stella Maris, “redouble your efforts” to address “trafficking, forced labour and human rights violations”

(Foto Vatican Media/SIR)

“I encourage you and the chaplains and volunteers of Stella Maris to redouble your efforts to confront issues that are all too often the fruit of human greed”. Pope Francis made this appeal in the audience he granted today to all those who devote themselves to the apostolate of the sea. “I am thinking of human trafficking, forced labour and violations of the human and labour rights of so many men and women who live and work on the seas”, Pope Francis explained: “Through your service, you can help restore to these persons their sense of dignity”. “As chaplains and volunteers of Stella Maris, you have been entrusted with the mission of presence, bringing the Good News of the Lord Jesus to the complex and varied world of seafaring”, the Pope said: “Your daily visits to the ships enable you to encounter people in concrete situations, at times serene, at other times anxious or even deeply troubled. With compassion and discretion, you give them a chance to pour out their hearts. This is the first and most precious service that you provide, above all to those who have few similar opportunities. Your ministry to sailors and fishermen is above all one of listening to them and to their material and spiritual needs”. “Listening can then lead to action”, the Pontiff suggested, before making an appeal.
“Thanks to you, those who are most vulnerable can find hope for a better future”, the Pope said as a tribute to them: “Your efforts can help them not to give up in the face of a life that is precarious and at times marked by exploitation. Your presence in the ports, large and small, is already a sign of God’s fatherhood and the fact that, in his eyes, we are all children, brothers and sisters to one another”; “a sign of the primordial worth of the human person, prior to and above every other interest”; and “an incentive for everyone, starting with the poorest, to work for justice and respect for fundamental rights”. The Holy Father then went on to remember the centenary of Stella Maris, which will be celebrated next year with the 25th World Congress in Glasgow, Scotland, “where this mission of the Church was born in the hearts and actions of several lay people”. “This anniversary will be an occasion to remember the past in order to discern the present and to look ahead to the future”, Pope Francis stated, recalling that it was Pius XI who wanted “the Stella Maris apostolate to extend its mission to the oceans and the shores of every continent”.

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