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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Catholic Teaching and the Right of Human Beings to Water

One of the greatest looming crisis in the world today is the global water shortage. Both secular and religious social justice advocates are concerned with this and Catholics in particular are applying CST (Catholic Social Teaching for my non-Catholic friends) to this. I have always been concerned with inequality and it's savage effects, as a Catholic child, as a fallen away Catholic, and as a returned Catholic. But returning late in adulthood, and studying CST I have gained a entirely new set of tools to use on this problem. I thank my old Santa Cruz friend Kim MacKay for this article and here is my take: Water is becoming a a point of conflict between global capitalism and the poor of the world. It is being treated as private property of investors. Catholic social teaching starts with certain simple premises: the dignity and right to survive of every human being, The "universal destination of goods" (that the good things of the earth are ultimately everyone's, as in Eden), the good of private property (that it protects people) and balancing the three, the Common Good, by which the universal destination of goods and the right of all to survive places limits on the right of private property, sometimes completely overcoming it. Aquinas, for instance, allowed that with no other remedies available, a person had the right to steal for survival. Nestle, a global beverage company, is asserting it's right of private property against the rights of rural and urban poor and farmers to water for survival. The Catholic church and secular critics are not in agreement, nor am I.