Laudato Si 30: Water, A Basic Human Right

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website.

Pope Francis throws down the gauntlet: water is not for possession. It is a basic human right.

30. Even as the quality of available water is constantly diminishing, in some places there is a growing tendency, despite its scarcity, to privatize this resource, turning it into a commodity subject to the laws of the market. Yet access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights. Our world has a grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water, because they are denied the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity. This debt can be paid partly by an increase in funding to provide clean water and sanitary services among the poor. But water continues to be wasted, not only in the developed world but also in developing countries which possess it in abundance. This shows that the problem of water is partly an educational and cultural issue, since there is little awareness of the seriousness of such behavior within a context of great inequality.

People accustomed to unlimited water at the turn of a handle indeed do not realize the gravity of the situation for people who lack the sanitation and access we First Worlders take for granted.

I recall with amusement when flood waters breached the reservoir in our town and the young miss was dumbfounded at the thought that clean-looking water coming from the tap was dangerous if not boiled.

The other issue is waste. I noted a few Catholics ridiculing some bishop who commented about navy showers. Even in abundance, it’s not a bad practice.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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