Unhealthy water 'immense shame' - pope

Slams corruption that impedes access

(ANSA) - Vatican City, November 8 - Unhealthy drinking water is an "immense shame" in the 21st century, Pope Francis said Thursday.
    In a message to an international conference in Rome entitled "The management of a common good: access to drinking water for all", he said more and better access to water must be provided worldwide. The one-day conference is being held at the Pontifical Urbaniana University and has been organized by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development in collaboration with the Embassies accredited to the Holy See of France, Italy, Monaco and the United States, according to Vatican News.
    In his message, the Pope says the fact that in many parts of the world, people do not have access to clean water and often die from unhealthy water, "is an immense shame for humanity in the 21st century." He goes on to say that, "unfortunately, in many of the countries where the population does not have regular access to drinking water, there is no shortage of arms and ammunition, which continues to worsen the situation." The Pope adds that corruption and economic interests all too often prevail over the needs of those who require clean water.
    Pope Francis goes on to express the hope that those who speak and participate at this Conference will be able to stress the urgency, will and determination needed on this issue.
    The Holy See and the Church, he points out "are committed to the access to clean water for all. This commitment is manifested in many initiatives such as the creation of infrastructure, training, and advocacy..., he says." The Pope underlines that "adequate anthropology is, in fact, indispensable for responsible and supportive lifestyles, for a true ecology, as well as for the recognition of access to drinking water as a right flowing from human dignity, and therefore incompatible with the concept of water as a commodity." From the point of view of faith, he says, in every thirsty man we perceive the same image of God, as we read in Matthew's Gospel: "I was thirsty and you gave me no drink". Noting that this Conference appropriately involves representatives of different faiths and cultures, the Pontiff comments that, "the dual spiritual and cultural dimension of water should never be neglected, since it is central to shaping social fabric, coexistence and community organization." He ends the message by inviting participants to meditate on the "symbology of water in the main religious traditions, exhorting them equally to "contemplate this resource which, as St Francis of Assisi wrote, is "very useful, very human and precious and chaste."

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