Seafarers’ Cardinal Enters Conclave

Amongst the cardinals who will enter the conclave on Tuesday to elect the new pope will be one who has a keen interest in the welfare of seafarers. Cardinal Antonio Maria Vegliò, President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, has responsibility for Apostleship of the Sea.

Last November, he addressed Apostleship of the Sea’s 23rd world congress, held in the Vatican, and spoke of the importance of the welfare of seafarers.“For the seafarers who arrive in foreign ports, far from the city, the presence of an Apostleship of the Sea centre with the chaplain and volunteers is always a beacon of light for those who have sailed for weeks only in the company of themselves. “The constant service given with love to respond to the needs of all crews, regardless of creed and nationality, brings hope in the moments of discouragement.”

He has also spoken of how modern time-saving technological innovations do not always lead to improvements in the lives of seafarers, especially "those who accept employment contracts requiring them to spend many months living away from their families." He said the problem was compounded by "the abandonment of ships and their crews in foreign ports without food or resources, and under increasingly restrictive measures that forbid seafarers from coming to land and expose them to abuse and exploitation."

Born in Italy, Cardinal Vegliò had a distinguished career in the Vatican diplomatic mission.  He served in a number of countries, including the Philippines, Kuwait, Papua New Guinea, Cape Verde, and Great Britain, where he was based in Wimbledon.