Friday, February 19, 2010

No Catholic weddings on cruises: Guidelines

Priests may not celebrate Catholic weddings on cruises but they should be available to offer blessings for newlyweds or couples celebrating anniversaries, say guidelines ratified by regional directors of the Apostleship of the Sea meeting at the Vatican last week.

The guidelines also stated that priests should offer daily and Sunday Masses, as well as ecumenical prayer services when required, Catholic Transcript repo.

Chaplains should make themselves available for pastoral care and counseling not only with passengers but also the crew, hotel staff and even the entertainers aboard ship, the guidelines said.

Chaplains are also encouraged to attend staff and employee meetings during a cruise to better understand the issues and concern of the people working on board.

The new guidelines asked cruise ship companies to provide chaplains with a private cabin and all standard meals. They are also asked to provide everything necessary to celebrate Mass, including vestments and chalices, and to advertise all the public activities of the chaplain while on board.

Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio, president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, which oversees the Apostleship of the Sea, said the recent growth of the cruise ship industry prompted the writing of the new "Cruise Ship Ministry Guidelines."

The document will be published later in the year as part of the 90th anniversary celebrations of the Apostleship of the Sea, an organization started in 1920 in Glasgow, Scotland, to oversee the Cchurch's mission to Catholics workers in maritime industries.

Deacon Albert M. Dacanay, regional coordinator of the Apostleship of the Sea for North America and the Caribbean, attended the Vatican meeting in early February.

He estimated that 60 percent of U.S. cruise ship clients are Catholic and that 80 percent of U.S. cruise ship staff members are Catholics, the majority coming from the Philippines.

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