Pontiff Praying for Pirates' Captives

Meets With Families of the Kidnapped

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 10, 2011 (Zenit.org).- As the Church today marks Sea Sunday, Benedict XVI assured his prayers for those who have been captured by pirates.

The celebration of Sea Sunday is an occasion to increase awareness in the Christian communities and society at large of the work of seafarers, and to present the maritime ministry carried out since 1920 by the chaplains and volunteers of the Apostleship of the Sea..

The Pope mentioned the celebration after praying the midday Angelus with pilgrims at Castel Gandolfo.

"I have a special thought today for the chaplains who work in the pastoral care of sailors, fishermen and their families," he said in Italian. "I assure my prayers for those sailors who unfortunately find themselves the captives of pirates. It is my wish that they be treated with respect and humanity, and I pray for their families that they be strong in faith and do not lose hope of being reunited soon with their loved ones."

After the public address, the Holy Father had a meeting with a group representing the families of some 800 seafarers from around the world who have been kidnapped and held by pirates.

Piracy reached a record high in 2010 with 445 attacks, according to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre. Though most of the occurrences are along the Somalian coast, piracy continues to be a global problem, affirmed the Italian bishops' Apostleship of the Sea.