Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Water, water, everywhere...

The Roman Catholic Church, which in the past few years has broadened its social justice mission to include global access to clean drinking water, has stepped up its efforts by summoning its first Pontifical Academy of Sciences meeting on the subject.

The gathering of the 402-year-old Vatican body in November came amid shrinking access to safe drinking water worldwide. [...]

Exactly what Catholic thinkers or the church, itself, should do is not altogether clear. Nonetheless, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is looking to get the faithful more involved. “The bishops seek to create an authentically Catholic voice in the environmental debate — a voice that reminds us of the special place of the human person in nature,” Walt Grazer, a spokesman for the conference of bishops, said at a Villanova University environmental conference titled, “Catholic Social Teaching and Ecology,” also held in November. “A voice that says that our concerns are part of a larger effort to bring about the common good of the entire human community and planet, and a voice that echoes the cry of the poor and vulnerable,” said Grazer. The event marked the 12th anniversary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Environmental Justice Program.

Pope Benedict XVI has made clear the high value he places on the environment, said Lucia Silecchia, professor of law at Washington, D.C.–based Catholic University, at the Villanova conference. “When it comes to environmental issues, Pope Benedict will not write on a blank slate,” said Silecchia. “It is highly likely that all of the ecological teachings of Pope Benedict will arise directly from his creation theology.

Read the complete article Vatican, scientists consider world’s water rights from Science & Theology News.

'Water wars' have been a big thing in international relations studies for a long time. For example, the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians could be reduced to being a water war over the Jordan River. Look at the toxic spill in China a few months ago and how the spill affected not only China, but Russia downstream.

That the Holy See is getting into the act on this issue is good to see. It should be a part of a larger strategy for the fair and equitable use of natural resources. However, the Holy See and the local conferences should be careful to not allow their thinking to be transformed into an environmental version of Liberation Theology.

It's not a well known fact because it is so largely underreported, but the largest domestic terrorist threat in the US comes from environmental groups who spike trees, sabotage equipment causing injury, spray paint SUVs in parking lots and trash car dealerships, causing millions of dollars in damage. The last thing the Church needs to be doing is giving these people moral credibility.

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