Taking action for ‘indispensable’ water in Asia for the Season of Creation

September 2, 2020

Water “is indispensable for human life and for supporting terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems,”
wrote Pope Francis. Above, women use a canal in India for domestic use while livestock bath themselves.

The Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences is encouraging its entire network to prayerfully reflect on the life-giving value of water and take action to protect the vital resource this Season of Creation, which started 1 September and concludes 4 October.

The federation has published an e-booklet titled, “Reflections on ‘Aqua Fons Vitae. Orientations on Water: symbol of the cry of the poor and the cry of the Earth,’” referring to the document the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development released in March 2020. Aqua fons vitae is Latin for “water is a source of life.”

The federation’s Human Development and Climate Change Desk invites everyone to immerse themselves in the month long season by reading the Vatican’s text, the federation’s e-booklet, and to take concrete action.

For every day of the Season of Creation, the e-booklet features a quote from “Aqua Fons Vitae,” one or two reflection questions, and an activity or a challenge to complete.

Father Joseph Gonsalves, executive secretary for the federation’s Human Development and Climate Change Desk, wrote the 24-page guide and focused on water because, in many places in the world, water shortages are already affecting human health and creation.

“Many different regions in India have a very acute situation of water. The situation is bad, especially in the summertime,” said Gonsalves, who lives in Mumbai.

Worldwide, 2.2 billion, or nearly one out of every three people on the planet, lack access to safely managed drinking water services, according to a 2019 report from UNICEF and the World Health Organization.

Around 3 billion people also lack basic hand washing facilities, a problem that has been sharply felt during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Fresh drinking water is an issue of primary importance, since it is indispensable for human life and for supporting terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems . . .  Water supplies used to be relatively constant, but now in many places demand exceeds the sustainable supply, with dramatic consequences in the short and long term.” (LS 28)

Father Gonsalves and the federation are calling on all Christians to embrace the Season of Creation, that special time of the year when the world’s 2.4 billion Christians unite as one global family.

“It’s one church of Christ. We may be different denominations, but we’re one church of Christ,” he said.

Gonsalves felt compelled to write the e-booklet after receiving positive feedback from a similar guide the federation published during Laudato Si’ Week in May, when hundreds of thousands of Catholics honored the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ world-changing encyclical.

“Creation is God’s gift to us. Therefore, we need to thank God for this gift that is there,” Gonsalves said.