On 9 April, Holy Thursday in the Catholic Church liturgical calendar, Pope Francis delivered his homily behind closed doors at St Peter's basilica in the Vatican, which has been closed to the public since early March. Among other topics, the Pope spoke about the novel coronavirus, suggesting that the global pandemic might be one of nature's responses to the man-made climate crisis.
Consistent with this messaging, the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development called last month for renewed efforts to confront water issues, to protect and care for water resources, and to provide clean water for all. (OOSKAnews)
The homily followed an interview in the UK Catholic weekly magazine, “The Tablet”, where the pontiff said the world should take stock of what damage the rate of production and consumption has caused to the natural world. "There is an expression in Spanish: 'God always forgives, we forgive sometimes, but nature never forgives,'" he said.
The pontiff's answers came in response to a question about whether the global pandemic might lead to ecological conversion, where people lead more environmentally conscious lives with the understanding that the natural world is part of God's creation.
"This is the time to take the decisive step, to move from using and misusing nature to contemplating it," he added.
A March 2020 Vatican Dicastery report titled “Orientations on Water, symbol of the cry of the poor and the cry of the Earth” discusses water in three perspectives:
- water for human use;
- water as a resource used in human activities, such as agriculture and industry;
- water as a resource, namely rivers, underground aquifers, lakes, oceans and seas.
For each aspect, challenges and operational proposals are presented to educate and increase awareness of the issue and commitment at local level.
“In view of the challenges raised by the crisis of the COVID-19, and in the light of the magisterial teaching about the interconnectedness of everything, be it ecological, economic, political and social, we are called to consider all the elements which contribute to elaborating a new paradigm for a new development model. The consideration of water, in this sense, clearly appears to be one of the elements that heavily impacts ‘integral’ and ‘human’ development.”
Separately, the Dicastery is assessing a new strategy with respect to water, sanitation and hygiene issues (WASH) in particular to health care facilities operated by the Catholic Church. In poor and developing countries, there is very often limited access to clean water, placing billion of people at risk.
The Catholic Church is described in the report as being committed to health and health care on all continents and the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development is consulting with religious congregations, development agencies, and qualified experts to “encourage and support those already actively involved in this battle to save lives".