Speaking at the close of Apostleship of the Sea’s 23rd international congress in the Vatican, he said, "Today too the Church sails across the seas to bring the Gospel to all nations, and your presence in ports throughout the world, your daily visits to ships docked in these ports and the fraternal welcome you give to the crews whilst in port are a visible sign of your concern for those who are not able to receive ordinary pastoral care.
"The vulnerability of seafarers, fishermen and sailors must encourage even greater concern on the part of the Church and stimulate the maternal care that, through you, she shows to those you meet in ports and on board ships, or assist during long periods at sea".
He added that the world of seafaring, with its continual movement of people, “must take account of the complex effects of globalisation and, unfortunately, has to face situations of injustice, especially when crews are subject to restrictions on disembarkation, abandoned along with the vessels on which they work, face the threat of piracy at sea or suffer the consequences of illegal fishing.”
He then spoke of those who work in the fishing sector and their families, emphasising that more than other groups they have to "face the difficulties of the present time and the uncertainty of a future threatened by the negative effects of climate change and the excessive exploitation of resources.
“I guarantee the Church will remain close to fishermen who seek dignified and safe working conditions, safeguarding the value of the family and the environment and defending the dignity of each individual".
At the end of his address he was presented with a high-visibility jacket, by John Green Director of Development for AoS GB, with the words “Holy Father” written on it. Apostleship of the Sea’s 23rd international congress attracted over 400 delegates from 70 countries.
You can see more pictures from the congress and the address on our Flickr site by following this link.