Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 21, 2008
Access to clean water is a human right, pope says in message
By CAROL GLATZ
Catholic News Service
Public and private sectors must work together to ensure all people, especially the poor, have access to clean, potable water, said Pope Benedict.
Water is "a universal and unalienable right" for all people. Its use must take into account the "growing and perennial needs of people who live in poverty," the pope said in a message to an international exposition on water and sustainable development.
Representing the Vatican, Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, delivered the pope's message to the International Exposition on Water and Sustainable Development in Zaragoza, Spain, June 14-Sept. 14.
The pope said water is "an essential and indispensable" gift from God for people to care for and use.
But its protection demands clear international and national policies and its use must be guided by criteria that uphold solidarity and responsibility to the whole human family, he said.
"Inadequate access to safe drinking water affects the well-being of a huge number of people and is often the cause of disease, suffering, conflicts, poverty and even death," he said.
Water should not be treated as merely an economic commodity, he said; its use must be guided by "reason and solidarity, fruit of a balanced synergy between the public and private sectors."