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Catholic diocese encourages its churches to stop using bottled water

Diocese of Hamilton wants church facilities, including Basilica of Our Lady, to be leaders in "sacred mandate"
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20160202 Guelph Basilica of Our Lady Immaculate Downtown 02 KA
Basilica of Our Lady Immaculate

The Diocese of Hamilton is encouraging all of its 121 parishes, including Guelph's Basilica of Our Lady, to stop using bottled water in church facilities.

A message from Bishop Douglas Crosby appeared in last Sunday's church bulletin at Basilica of Our Lady in Guelph encouraging all parishes to "refrain from using bottled water in church facilities effective Jan. 1, 2017."

The message the Basilica of Our Lady bulletin specified local water taking as a motivator for reducing bottled water use.

It read as follows:

"THE RESPONSIBLE STEWARDS OF CREATION; FROM BISHOP CROSBY

Close to five million litres of water are taken from Wellington County daily for a water bottling plant. This extraction of large amounts of water adversely effects the ecological balance of nature over a large area while depriving those who rely on wells of their right to water. Close to seventy-five percent of plastic bottles end up in land fill sites, thus contributing to contamination of the soil for thousands of years. All parishes of the Diocese of Hamilton are encouraged to refrain from using bottled water in church facilities effective January 1, 2017. As stewards of Creation may we be leaders in the responsible use of our sacred mandate."

Msgr. Murray Kroetsch, Chancellor and official spokesperson for the Diocese of Hamilton, said the statement was for the entire diocese, not just Guelph.
 
"The statement was issued for the entire diocese – it is based on information regarding the sale of water to retail companies that will deplete the water resource in the wells for farmers in Wellington," Msgr. Kroetsch said in an e-mail.
"This is a problem not limited to Wellington, but raises the question of care for the earth – our common home.  This initiative is in keeping with Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si."
While the Bishop's intent is to promote green practices and stewardship for the earth in its facilities, some of the statements within it would certainly seem to be debatable, most notably that water bottling activity in Wellington County is "depriving those who rely on wells of their right to water."

While not mentioned directly, the notice in the Basilica of Our Lady church bulletin appears to refer specifically to Nestle Waters Canada and its Aberfoyle operations.

Asked to comment on the church's stance, Nestle said it preferred questions be directed to the Canadian Beverage Association, which represents over 60 pre-packaged beverage companies, including Nestle.

They supplied the following prepared statement from its president Jim Goetz:

“Canada’s bottled water industry supports a functional municipal water infrastructure and works diligently to be environmental stewards. Bottled water accounts for only 0.001% of the total 377 trillion litres covered by Ontario Permits to Take Water, and research shows that bottled water does not compete with tap water, but rather with other packaged beverages. In addition, the recovery of PET plastic bottles supports a circular economy and can provide value to municipal recycling systems.”



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