Pope Francis reminded the faithful on Sunday, 11 July, that today is Sea Sunday: “dedicated in a special way to all those who rely on the sea for their work and livelihood.”
Celebrated annually, Sea Sunday is a day for people to come together to pray for seafarers and fishers and thank them for the vital role they play in all of our lives.As Pope Francis points out, it is also a day in which to highlight the importance of caring for the sea and its ecosystem.
Speaking after the Angelus prayer, the Pope said he is praying for seafarers and he exhorted everyone to take care of the oceans and of the seas.
“Take care of the health of the sea: no plastic in the sea!” he said.
8 million tons of plastic enter the ocean every year
UN figures show 8 million tons of plastic enter the ocean annually, killing marine life and feeding into the human food chain.
Pope Francis makes many references to the need to care for oceans and seas in his encyclical “Laudato sì, On Care for Our Common Home”. In paragraphs 40-41, he writes: “Oceans not only contain the bulk of our planet’s water supply, but also most of the immense variety of living creatures, many of them still unknown to us and threatened for various reasons…Particularly threatened are marine organisms which we tend to overlook, like some forms of plankton; they represent a significant element in the ocean food chain, and species used for our food ultimately depend on them…In tropical and subtropical seas, we find coral reefs comparable to the great forests on dry land, for they shelter approximately a million species, including fish, crabs, molluscs, sponges and algae. Many of the world’s coral reefs are already barren or in a state of constant decline. ‘Who turned the wonderworld of the seas into underwater cemeteries bereft of colour and life.'”
In a letter to business leaders at a 2018 Vatican conference on the fourth World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, he said “We cannot allow our seas and oceans to be littered by endless fields of floating plastic.”
“We need to pray as if everything depended on God’s providence, and work as if everything depended on us,” he said.
By Linda Bordoni