“Some contributors to the Seven Weeks denounce the crimes that are being committed against Earth and people through water. Others share a hopeful account of what the church, what people of faith, can do with respect to water for all,” says Veronica Flachier, Lutheran pastor and representative of WCC-EWN from Ecuador. “It is always a prophetic call, it is to raise the prophetic voice of the church to remind all of us that water is a good that we cannot do without,” she adds on what the campaign means to her. “It is a voice of warning and of hope that rises to tell us that we have to take action, that our faith must be active.”
No matter the region, contributions to the Seven Weeks for Water give testimony to the urgency of addressing the ongoing water crisis. “We see the dramatic waste of water from water bottling, fracking, and industrial farming, industrial and agricultural water pollution, and water shutoffs to the poor,” reports Susan Smith from the USA who helped prepare this year’s reflections focusing on North America. “Many people believe this is the price we have to pay for economic development.”
She welcomes that the Seven Weeks for Water regularly challenge this belief that exploiting the world’s water and other natural resources is necessary for economic prosperity. “In reality, we are trading our health and the protection of all Creation to allow the few to make short-term profits,” stresses Smith. Facts and stories from all over the world shared as part of the campaign show that often it is the poorest who are most affected whenever water is polluted, overexploited and unequally distributed.
Smith explains why her faith calls her to speak up and act in the face of water injustice: “Jesus' radical message was that we should reject a status quo that favours the rich over the poor and the powerful empire over ordinary people,” she says. To her, theological reflection is key in providing guidance. “We need deep reflection to know what action to take, and faith that change is possible.”
Elias Wolff, a Roman Catholic priest and theologian from Brazil, emphasizes that water as a life-giving element right at the intersection of environmental and social justice has been a key theme of the WCC-EWN’s work and its Lenten campaign from the beginning. “We are called to listen to the cry of the earth and the cry of poor, as Pope Francis put it in his encyclical Laudato si’,” he explains. “A true ecological conversion, an ‘integral conversion’ includes a new way of being and living with people and all of creation.
“Achieving such an integral ecology calls for a profound interior conversion on both the personal and communal level,” says Wolff, underlining the importance of spiritual reflection. “Lent is a good time to reflect and to develop a spirituality that can sustain and nourish our capacity to live in a more sustainable and integrated way with all of creation,” he finds. Wolff stresses that in the end this is about much more than water. “It’s about reconstructing the relationships between human beings and with nature so that no one is hungry and thirsty for justice.”
Theological and biblical reflection is exactly what has been at the core of the Seven Weeks for Water ever since the first WCC-EWN Lenten campaign in 2008. “I am sometimes surprised that our contributors still uncover new theological and biblical aspects and new perspectives on why and how we should engage on water issues as followers of Christ,” shares Dinesh Suna, coordinator of the WCC-EWN. “I hope that the campaign continues to be a source of inspiration and hope for people around the world in the years to come.”