By Lydia O’Kane
Greeting the fishers from San Benedetto del Tronto in the Marche region of Italy, Pope Francis had words of encouragement for those gathered, urging them not to lose hope in the face of “inconveniences and uncertainties” which they face in their work.
Passion and sacrifice
You sail along the Marche coast, he said, “in good and bad weather to take from the sea what is necessary to live, with so much passion, so many sacrifices and even some danger. And your loved ones share the difficulties and the precariousness that this kind of life of yours involves.”
The Pope noted that fishers can sometimes feel tempted by the desire for a safe job on land. Yet, he added, “those born of the sea cannot eradicate the sea from their hearts.”
The Pontiff also pointed out that their often “risky and hard work needs to be valued, supporting your rights and your legitimate aspirations.”
Fishing for Plastic
During his address, Pope Francis expressed his particular appreciation for the voluntary work they are doing to rid the seabed of plastic.
He described this initiative as “very important, both for the large amount of waste, especially plastic waste” that has been recovered and hailed the fact that it is already becoming a model in other areas of Italy and abroad.
The Pope went on to say that operation ‘Fishing for Plastic’ “is an example of how local civil society can and must contribute to tackling issues of global importance”.
Fishers and the Gospel
Pope Francis described how Jesus' first disciples were their ‘colleagues’, and the Pontiff invited them "to follow him just like they were setting up their nets on the shore of the Lake of Galilee.”
“I like to think that even today, those of you who are Christians feel the spiritual presence of the Lord beside you”, he said.
Concluding his address, the Pope urged the fishers present not to lose their Christian values which are found in helping one another and helping those in need.