GREETING OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO THE DELEGATION OF FISHERMEN
FROM SAN BENEDETTO DEL TRONTO (ASCOLI PICENO)
Saturday, January 18, 2020
Dear brothers and sisters,
I am happy to meet you and greet you all cordially. I thank your Bishop for his words, as well as the priests present here, who spiritually accompany your work and your families. Along the coast of the Marche, you go out with good and bad weather to take from the sea the necessary to live, with so much passion, many sacrifices and even some danger. And your loved ones share the difficulties and precariousness this kind of life entails.
You are a significant category in the social life of your area. In the progress that characterizes modern society, the fisherman may sometimes feel tempted by the desire for safe work on dry land. Yet whoever was born on the sea cannot eradicate the sea from his heart. I urge you not to lose hope in the face of the inconveniences and uncertainties that you unfortunately have to face: you don't lack courage! At the same time, your often risky and hard work needs to be valued by supporting your rights and legitimate aspirations.
For my part, I want to express a particular appreciation for the seabed remediation activity, which you have undertaken with the participation of other associations and the collaboration of the competent Authorities. This initiative is very important, both for the large amount of waste, especially plastic, that you have recovered, and - and I would say above all - because it can become and is already becoming a repeatable model in other areas of Italy and abroad. The "Plastic Fishing" operation, which you carried out voluntarily, is an example of how local civil society can and must contribute to tackling global issues, without taking anything away, indeed, stimulating the responsibility of the institutions. And I see that it goes on, because I was telling your Bishop that the other time the group came they talked to me about 6 tons, now 24 tons: go on!
Dear friends, yours is an ancient job. Even my predecessor Peter was a fisherman. In the Gospel we read a series of events related to the life and world of fishermen. The first disciples of Jesus were "your colleagues", and He called them to follow him just as they were setting up the nets on the shore of Lake Galilee. I like to think that even today, how many of you are Christians feel the spiritual presence of the Lord beside you. Your faith animates precious values: popular religiosity which is expressed in trust in God, in the sense of prayer and in the Christian education of children; esteem for the family; the sense of solidarity, so you feel the need to help each other and to help you in your needs. Please don't lose these values!
With these wishes, I entrust you to the protection of the Virgin Mary, whom you venerate as "Our Lady of the Sea", and of your patron Saint Francis of Paola. I invoke the blessing of the Lord upon you, your families and your work. And I ask you, please, to pray for me. Thank you!
Full Text + Image Source: Vatican.va