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Cambodia joins Apostleship of the Sea

Three-day Taiwan meeting ends with new member but Chinese participation still far-off

Roy Paul (left), of the International Transportation Federation-Seafarers’ Trust, at the inauguration ceremony of the Seafarers’ Center at Taichung Harbor Roy Paul (left), of the International Transportation Federation-Seafarers’ Trust, at the inauguration ceremony of the Seafarers’ Center at Taichung Harbor
  • Francis Kuo, Taichung
  • Taiwan
  • May 13, 2011
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The Apostleship of the Sea (AOS)'s East and Southeast Asia region has wrapped up its annual meeting in Taichung City in Taiwan and welcomed Cambodia as its 10th member.

Some 70 guests from government, the port administration, shipping companies and AOS delegates also attended the inauguration of the Stella Maris Seafarers’ Center in Taichung port yesterday.

As well as taking Cambodia into its fold, the AOS revealed that Vietnam and Myanmar are currently negotiating to join the Catholic organization for seafarers.

However, accepting China as a member could prove difficult, officials added.

According to Singapore-based regional coordinator, Father Romeo Yu Chang, the AOS has never had contact with the China Church, although many big ports, such as Shanghai, have become major stopovers for international seafarers.

Father Bruno Ciceri of the Rome-based AOS International Desk said it is currently impossible to discuss Chinese membership considering the frosty relationship between the Vatican and Beijing.

The three-day meeting also saw each participating country share their pastoral experiences.

During the closing ceremony, Archbishop John Hung Shan-chuan of Taipei reminded around 40 AOS national directors, chaplains, workers and volunteers not “to impose the Gospel on anybody but preach it to whomsoever we meet,” including non-Catholic crewmen and their employers.

“Even if seafarers have obtained the same rights as the locals, their work will always keep them separated from their families and they will always need you,” said in his speech, which was read out by Father Otfried Chen, secretary-general of Taiwan’s bishop’s conference.

AOS members in the region comprise Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and now Cambodia.

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