"Speaking of restful waters for us today brings to mind a problem that is fundamental to humankind, that of portable water. It has become a natural good that is scarcer than oil, gold, or uranium, for 97.5 percent of all water is in the sea. And over two-thirds of the 2.5 percent of fresh water is found in polar icecaps and glaciers high in the mountains (68.9 percent), and almost all the rest (19.9 percent) is found in underground aquifers. That leaves 0.9 percent in swamps and only 0.3 percent in rivers and lakes. Of this tiny 0.3 percent of fresh water, 70 percent is devoted to irrigation for agriculture, 20 percent to industry, and only 10 percent to human consumption and for other living beings. Serious water shortages now affect 40 percent of humankind.

"Use of non-biodegradable detergents, non-treated wastes, abusive use of agricultural toxins that pollute rivers and groundwaters, trash thrown on streams or carried by summer runoffs — all threaten to undermine the frail and complex chain of life. No wonder 80 percent of diseases in the world are due to contaminated waters!

"The water crisis is so serious that many are predicting devastating wars in the coming years over access to sources of potable water. Hence the race to privatize water. Whoever controls water controls life. The great debate is posed in these terms: Is water a source of life or a source of profit? Is water a natural, vital, and irreplaceable resource or an economic resource to be brokered?

"Water cannot be viewed as merchandise. It is so bound up with the balance of the Earth, understood as a living planet, Gaia, and is so vital that it merges with life itself. We are not aware of any life that is not dependent on water. Hence, in matters of water, it is important to cultivate an ethic of care, responsibility, and group solidarity. Otherwise, we undermine the future of life itself.

"In praying Psalm 23 in the context of our world reality, we trust that the good shepherd is leading us to restful waters. We demonstrate our faith in the certainty that God is guaranteeing the conditions of life and health not only for us humans but for all living beings of creation, our companions in the community of life. We reaffirm our faith that God is assuring us of the availability of the primary need for the plants, cereals, and vegetables that sustain us. But God has no other hands than ours. We must have human policies that responsibly and in solidarity find a solution to the shortage of potable water for all humankind and for the entire community of life."