A sunset is seen through a wind farm in 2015 near Puck, Poland. Poland's Catholic bishops have urged nationwide prayers for rain, amid warnings huge areas of farmland could be ruined by drought during the COVID-19 pandemic. CNS photo/Kacper Pempel, Reuters

Polish church warns of water shortages during pandemic

By 
  • April 23, 2020

WARSAW, Poland -- Poland's Catholic bishops have urged nationwide prayers for rain, amid warnings huge areas of farmland could be ruined by drought during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Our homeland has struggled with the coronavirus epidemic, as the state makes efforts to maintain the economy, sustain jobs and rescue those wrestling with financial problems," Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, president of the bishops' conference, said in an April 21 appeal.

"Yet these are not our only difficulties, since the country is affected today by another severity -- namely a drought which threatens to destroy hundreds of thousands of hectares of arable land."

The appeal was issued as the Polish government eased coronavirus restrictions, while also unveiling plans to boost and safeguard water supplies.

Archbishop Gadecki said the drought looked set to erode agricultural production and drive up food prices, while also decimating Polish exports.

"This will hit hundreds of thousands of farmers, fruit-growers, gardeners and their families who make a living from the earth," the bishops' conference president said.

"So I appeal to all faithful and people of goodwill to beg for rain with lasting, ardent prayers -- in sanctuaries, parishes, religious houses and families."

Poland's government confirmed April 20 its anti-drought legislation would include expanded reservoirs and irrigation projects, after the warmest winter in half a century was followed by the lowest March rainfall in 30 years.

However, the State Forestry Commission warned of fire hazards after a six-week ban on visiting parks and forests was lifted April 20 as part of an easing of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, which also saw Catholic churches reopen nationwide to limited congregations.

In his appeal, Archbishop Gadecki praised medical and security services and the sense of "responsibility and solidarity" shown by Poles during the pandemic, adding that Catholic clergy and laypeople who had joined the fight through "faithful prayer, persistent work and material help" also deserved "highest respect and recognition."

Meanwhile, Poland's primate, Archbishop Wojciech Polak, called on Catholics April 22 to pray to the national patron, St. Adalbert, "for an end to the epidemic and rain in our thirsty and parched land."

In a pastoral message for World Water Day March 22, bishops from Poland's coal-mining Silesia region, which includes some of Europe's most polluted districts, warned access to drinking water was already restricted. They said the Catholic Church should promote safeguarding water as a "moral cause."

"Poland possesses the lowest stocks of natural water of all European countries," said Archbishop Wiktor Skworc of Katowice and the other bishops.

"We can't just keep paving over our land, since water must return if it's to continue to be of service to us. Many such practices are morally reprehensible and should be branded ecological sins."

In a March report, the European Environmental Agency warned decreased rainfall would deplete farmland by more than 80% in parts of southern Europe in coming decades, but said water shortages would also affect crop yields and productivity in Scandinavia and Central Europe.

The World Food Organization and other U.N. agencies warned April 21 that movement restrictions during the COVID-19 crisis were threatening logistics and supply chains, leaving 135 million people worldwide facing acute food shortages.

Comments (1)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

"So I appeal to all faithful and people of goodwill to beg for rain with lasting, ardent prayers -- in sanctuaries, parishes, religious houses and families."

I think God would respond that it is time for Poland to join the rest of Europe in...

"So I appeal to all faithful and people of goodwill to beg for rain with lasting, ardent prayers -- in sanctuaries, parishes, religious houses and families."

I think God would respond that it is time for Poland to join the rest of Europe in taking climate change seriously, by, for example, shutting down all their dirty coal power plants. Then, and only then, may the rain come. Prayers must be accompanied by action to move away from greed and toward environmental sustainability.

Read More
Elliot Ja
There are no comments posted here yet

Leave your comments

  1. Posting comment as a guest. Sign up or login to your account.
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible, which has become acutely important amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.