ROME — Pope Francis sent an undisclosed amount of money to the families of the missing crew members of a cargo ship that capsized off the coast of Japan in September.
The donation, which was distributed through the apostolic nunciatures in the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand, “will be delivered personally to the families of the missing and the two survivors, together with a small personal gift from Pope Francis, to show his closeness and solidarity,” the Vatican said Oct. 21.
The ship, Gulf Livestock 1, was carrying 43 crew members and 6,000 cattle when it capsized in the sea of Japan near the island of Amami Oshima Sept. 2, after it experienced a main engine failure while it sailed through Typhoon Maysak, a deadly cyclone that struck the Japanese coast and the Korean peninsula.
While crew members had boarded life rafts, Japanese coast guard teams were able to rescue only three seafarers, one of whom later died.
According to The Australian newspaper, four life rafts and one lifeboat are still unaccounted for, giving hope to families that their loved ones may still be alive in one of the uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.
Families of the missing crew members have sought donations in recent weeks to hire reconnaissance aircraft to search for their loved ones.
The Vatican said that its Stella Maris apostolate centers have also provided spiritual, psychological and personal support to the families of 39 of the crew members who hailed from the Philippines.
“This work is entrusted to Mary, Stella Maris, protector of seafarers, so that she will give courage and strength to all family members to face the future,” the Vatican said.