September 16, 2005

Dear Pastors and Parishioners,

DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE is in its third and final year of its program entitled, Water: Life before Profit! This years petition calls on the Government of Canada, nationally and internationally, to ensure access to clean water for all, now and for future generations by:

  • Supporting publicly or cooperatively controlled water services that have genuine community participation;
  • Opposing measures in federal, bilateral or multilateral agreements and policies that promote the privatization of water services; and
  • Protecting and preserving natural sources of water.

Two years ago, in their document, You love all that exists, the Canadian bishops mentioned that This is a propitious time for Christian communities to reflect on the meaning of water in our lives, the need to preserve it and safeguard its purity and also redefine how we share it. Our Catholic social teaching is explicit when it says that people must be the active subjects of policies that affect their lives. It also stresses that decisions and management responsibilities pertaining to life - in this case the most precious source of life, water - ought to take place at the lowest appropriate level. This is the principle of subsidiarity. It is at the local level in community where the common good becomes something real and not just abstract numbers and statistics.

Development and Peace will be offering a workshop in our diocese on September 28th, at Immaculate Heart of Mary church, 1758 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa, from 7 to 9 PM. I would urge all parishes to delegate at least one person or, ideally, a group of persons, to this workshop to become more familiar with the issues and then come back to the parish and help their community become active subjects of policies that affect their lives and, in this case, the lives of billions of the poorest of Gods children.

I invite you to sign this petition-postcard as a concrete expression of our love of all that exists.

Sincerely yours in Christ our Lord,

+ Marcel Gervais
Archbishop of Ottawa