By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Water is a gift of God that makes life
possible and yet millions of people do not have access to safe drinking water,
and rivers, seas and oceans continue to be polluted, Pope Francis said.
“Care for water sources and water basins is an urgent
imperative,” the pope said in a message Sept. 1, the World Day of Prayer
for the Care of Creation, an observance begun by the Orthodox Church and now
celebrated by many Christians.
With the world day 2018 focused on water, Pope Francis drew
special attention to the more than 600 million people who do not have regular
access to clean drinking water.
“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,” he said, quoting from
his encyclical “Laudato Si'” on the environment.
“In considering the fundamental role of water in
creation and in human development,” he wrote, “I feel the need to
give thanks to God for ‘Sister Water,'” as St. Francis of Assisi said.
Water is “simple and useful for life like nothing else on our
Fulfilling the Gospel mandate to give the thirsty something
to drink involves more than individual acts of charity, although those are
important, he said. It also involves “concrete choices and a constant
commitment to ensure to all the primary good of water.”
Believers have an obligation to thank God for the gift of
water and “to praise him for covering the earth with the oceans,”
Pope Francis said. But they also have an obligation to work together to keep
the oceans clean instead of allowing them to be “littered by endless
fields of floating plastic.”
Thinking of oceans and seas, also led the pope to think of
the thousands of migrants and refugees who “risk their lives at sea in
search of a better future.”
“Let us ask the Lord and all those engaged in the noble
service of politics that the more sensitive questions of our day, such as those
linked to movements of migration, climate change and the right of everyone to
enjoy primary goods, may be faced with generous and farsighted responsibility
and in a spirit of cooperation, especially among those countries most able to
help,” he wrote.
Pope Francis also offered prayers for people who fish and
others who earn their livings at sea, for those who minister to them and for
all the scientists and public policy experts who help the public recognize the
treasures of the sea and work to protect them.
And, as the Catholic Church prepares for a world Synod of
Bishops on young people, he urged Christians to educate and pray for the young
“that they may grow in knowledge and respect for our common home and in
the desire to care for the essential good of water, for the benefit of all.”
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