A report in the Huffington Post highlights what might possibly be one of the least known assignments of Navy chaplains: the Merchant Marine. Nor is this some easy duty. As Nicole Winfield reports,
the record number of pirate attacks and hostage-taking last year has prompted alarm that spiritual, psychological and financial needs are going unmet, particularly among Asians who form the vast majority of captured crews.
“While the owners pay soaring ransoms for the recovery of vessels and cargos, seafarers, (fishermen) and their families are paying the highest price in terms of psychological trauma and other consequences,’ the Rev. Gabriele Bentoglio, under-secretary in the Vatican’s office for migrants, told the conference’s opening session. [the conference is on providing better assistance to hijacked sailors and their families back home]
“Before, during and after their ordeal, very little professional assistance is often offered to these people.”
Admiral Pierluigi Cacioppo, vice commander of Italy’s ports, told the conference that guidelines must be adopted so that there’s a clear protocol on how to prepare sailors for the possibility of attack, then care for them and their families if they are captured, and afterward to cope with any remaining trauma”
US Merchant Marine ships have been involved in rescue operations — anyone know whether there were chaplains aboard? Note that the Navy is not the only one that supplies chaplains to the Merchant Marine. Organizations like the Catholic organization Stella Maris and the Episcopal Seamen’s Church Institute also send chaplains.