Vatican laments often poor working conditions of seafarers

Pope Francis blesses the crowd as he recites the Angelus noon prayer from the window of his studio overlooking St.Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, July 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican is calling attention to the plight of merchant seamen and fishermen who may face dismal working conditions and be kept from going ashore when their ships dock in foreign ports.

Pope Francis marked the Catholic Church’s “Sea Sunday” by praying for the world’s estimated 1.2 million seafarers and their families during his traditional Sunday blessing.

The Vatican office that coordinates pastoral care for seafarers issued a message lamenting that boat owners and employers increasingly are refusing to give crews permission to go ashore either because of ship policy or immigration regulations.

The Vatican says chaplains also are being denied access to crew members, many of whom are Christian and come from countries such as Ukraine and the Philippines.

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