The Roman Catholic Church's "Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development" has called for renewed efforts to confront water issues, to protect and care for water resources, and to provide clean water for all. Dicasteries are departments of the Roman Curia, the administration of the church's "Holy See" through which the pope directs the Roman Catholic Church.
A March 2020 Dicastery report titled “Orientations on Water, symbol of the cry of the poor and the cry of the Earth” draws on the work of Catholic churches both at the national and local level throughout the world highlights that the issue of safety in infection and epidemic (COVID-19) management is alarming in the face of limited and unclean water resources.
“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.”
The document 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.
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".
In addition, the Discastery is collaborating with Catholic Relief Services and Global Water 2020 as partners in developing surveys to be used for implementation and fundraising efforts to support operational projects.