The document, entitled Evangelii Gaudium, ‘the joy of the Gospel’ echoed a number of current priorities for the AoS and those working at sea. The document underlined the "globalization of indifference" that Pope Francis spoke of when he made his first official visit outside of Rome to Lampedusa, the island off which many migrants have been lost at sea.
Such situations are not inconsequential for each one of us as 'all of us have some share of responsibility in these situations' (211). Spread throughout the world in nearly 300 ports, AoS often works ‘hidden below the radar’. Locally, however, its work is greatly appreciated and an authentic example, as the document says, of a living Church, 'if the Church today appears still highly credible in many countries of the world, even where it is a minority, it is because of her works of charity and solidarity.'
Presidência da Republica/Roberto Stuckert Filho
Pope Francis. Photo: Agencia Brasil/
A concern of AoS and the document is the promotion of faith in both new ways and old; the document underlines ‘the value of popular piety as an expression of the genuine faith of many people who thereby give true testimony of their simple encounter with the love of God (122-126).’
Seafarers and fishermen, even in a highly industrialised environment, exhibit such simple faith when, for example, they request a chaplain to bless their cabin or gather onboard for devotion to particular saints connected with the sea, above all our Lady Star of the Sea, Stella Maris.
Following the recent Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, AoS port chaplains around the world helped seafarers get news of events back home and establish contact loved ones, examples of what Evangelii Gaudium describes as 'simple and daily gestures of solidarity in the face of the many concrete situations of need' (188), a vital component of evangelisation.
AoS feels deeply affirmed by the Holy Father as it seeks to implement the new evangelisation amidst the many challenges of the seafaring and fishing world.