07 Catholic Church defends Right to Water - Christiana Zenner

posted Mar 13, 2019, 10:25 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 13, 2019, 10:25 AM ]
Six years ago, few people thought of the Catholic Church as ecologically activist or environmentally diplomatic. But Pope Francis' election to the papacy changed that, especially since the promulgation of his 2015 ecology encyclical, Laudato Si', on 'Care for Our Common Home'. In my analysis, fresh water is the most important point of papal reflection at the intersection of environmental and social justice. Fresh water is, in no uncertain terms, a fundamental life issue.

The magisterial Catholic Church has articulated two fulcrums for environmental reflection — theological and ethical — which apply in specific ways to fresh water.

Theologically, water is the matrix of Creation, a ritual substance par excellence, and a gift from God intended for the benefit of all people.

Ethically, fresh water is a substance that requires attention to justice: it is the poor and vulnerable who are first and most profoundly affected by lack of sufficient, clean, fresh water.

Pope Francis is surely the most visible, and most recent, authoritative Catholic voice on the topic of the centrality of fresh water to environmental and social justice. Citing his and Pope Benedict XVI's papal precedent, Pope Francis' concluding salvo at a 2017 Vatican-hosted 'Dialogue on Water' exhorted:

"The questions that you are discussing are not marginal, but basic and pressing. Basic, because where there is water, there is life, making it possible for societies to arise and advance. Pressing, because our common home needs to be protected. Yet it must also be realised that not all water is life-giving, but only water that is safe and of good quality — as St Francis again tells us, water that "serves with humility," "chaste" water, not polluted. All people have a right to safe drinking water. This is a basic human right and a central issue in today's world."