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Work of the Catholic Church
The Welfare of Seafarers
We, the Catholic Bishops
of Australia are deeply edified by the response of the
Maritime Industry to the Forum on Seafarers’ Welfare
held in Melbourne on 22-23 August 2000, sponsored by the
Department of Transport and Regional Services and hosted
by the Apostleship of the Sea and the Australian Council
of the Mission to Seafarers.
We welcome and support
the initiative taken by the Governmental and Maritime
Industry to develop a National Seafarers’ Welfare
Advisory Council and Port Welfare Committees throughout
Australia. It is vital that the on-ship environment not
put seafarers’ lives in unnecessary danger or seafarers
in sub-human conditions of life and work.
It is distressing that
not all ship-owners and charterers appear to be
earnestly seeking to ensure that their ships are safe
and their seafarers’ conditions worthy of human beings.
For example, some “Flags of Convenience” ships continue
to operate with impunity, despite their having little
regard for human dignity, for our country’s laws, and
for our environment. As we commend Australia’s maritime
safety authority for the stronger line it is taking with
regard to such ‘ships of shame’, ceaseless vigilance and
action on the part of all who must or can assist the
needs of seafarers are called for.
The now scheduled
development of Port Seafarers’ Welfare Committees will
not only ensure the support of the work of seafarers’
welfare agencies: it will, at each local level, help the
efficiency and enhance the reputation of the Australian
Maritime Industry and show the world that Australia has
deeply at heart the welfare of all.
Catholic Bishops' Conference
fulfilling this mission to Seafarers, you
face a most challenging and difficult task.
You are dealing
with people who live in a dispersed milieu.
painful problems, such as separation from
family and friends and the resulting
feelings of isolation and loneliness; for
extended periods of time they live and work
at a great distance from a territorial
In a real sense,
the Seafaring world has become a missionary
you are not alone in this awesome task. The
whole Church is one with you in solicitude
Churches have a special role to play in the
pastoral care of seafarers and other migrant
Vatican, 27 October 1982