Pope Francis Warns of Great World War Caused by Water Scarcity

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“The right to water is essential for the survival of persons and decisive for the future of humanity,” Pope Francis said during a meeting with international experts participating in a ‘Dialogue on Water’ at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on Friday.

“All people have a right to safe drinking water. I ask [myself] if in this piecemeal third world war that we are living through, are we not going toward a great world war for water?” he said.

Pope Francis pointed to the latest figures on water published by the United Nations and said that the world should not remain indifferent to the issue.

“Every day, a thousand children die of illness linked to water and contaminated water is consumed by millions of people every day… This situation must be stopped and reversed. Fortunately, this is not impossible, but it is urgent,” the pontiff said.

A report released by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) this month warns that “groundwater sources are being depleted rapidly,” and described “water scarcities” as one of the key global problems.

“Mankind’s future ability to feed itself is in jeopardy due to intensifying pressures on natural resources, mounting inequality, and the fallout from a changing climate,” it said.

According to a 2016 UN report, nearly 663 million people “lack ready access to improved sources of drinking water, while the number of people without reliable access to water of good enough quality to be safe for human consumption is at least 1.8 billion.”

*(Pope Francis speaking at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Image Credit: European Parliament/ flickr).

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Pope Francis delivered another criticism of some members of his own Church on Thursday, suggesting it is better to be an atheist than one of “many” Catholics who he said lead a hypocritical double life.

In improvised comments in the sermon of his private morning Mass in his residence, he said: “It is a scandal to say one thing and do another. That is a double life.”

“There are those who say ‘I am very Catholic, I always go to Mass, I belong to this and that association’,” the head of the 1.2 billion-member Roman Catholic Church said, according to a Vatican Radio transcript.

He said that some of these people should also say “‘my life is not Christian, I don’t pay my employees proper salaries, I exploit people, I do dirty business, I launder money, (I lead) a double life’.”

“There are many Catholics who are like this and they cause scandal,” he said. “How many times have we all heard people say ‘if that person is a Catholic, it is better to be an atheist’.”

Since his election in 2013, Francis has often told Catholics, both priests and lay people, to practice what their religion preaches.

In his often impromptu sermons, he has condemned sexual abuse of children by priests as being tantamount to a “Satanic Mass”, said Catholics in the mafia excommunicate themselves, and told his own cardinals to not act as if they were “princes”.

Less than two months after his election, he said Christians should see atheists as good people if they do good, Reuters reported.

*(Pope Francis attends his weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square on September 18, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. Credit: Franco Origlia/ Getty Images/ flickr).

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Iraqi army troops on Saturday stormed into a Christian region that has been under ISIS control since 2014 as part of operations to clear the entrances to Mosul, the terrorist’ last major city stronghold in Iraq, Reuters reported.

A military statement said Iraqi units entered the center of Qaraqosh, a mainly Christian town about 20 km (13 miles) southeast of Mosul, and were carrying out mop-up operations across the town.

Further action was under way to seize a neighboring Christian village, Karamless, also known as Karemlash in the Syriac language. The region’s population fled in the summer of 2014, when ISIS swept in.

Earlier this week, Iraqi special units also captured Bartella, a Christian village north of Qaraqosh.

A U.S. military official estimated there were fewer than a couple of hundred ISIS fighters in Qaraqosh.

“I’ve seen berms in Qaraqosh. I anticipate there’ll be trenches, there’ll be passageways between different buildings,” the official added, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The offensive on Mosul is expected to become the biggest battle fought in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 and it could require a massive humanitarian relief operation.

Some 1.5 million residents remain in the city and worst-case scenario forecasts see up to a million being uprooted, according to the United Nations. U.N. aid agencies said the fighting has so far forced about 6,000 to flee their homes.

The army is trying to advance from the south and the east while Kurdish Peshmerga fighters are holding fronts in the east and north.

Iraqi forces have advanced to five km (three miles) from Mosul and there are signs of revolt against the group, the interior minister of the Kurdish regional government, Karim Sinjar, said in an interview on Saturday in Erbil.

On the southern front, nearly 1,000 people were treated for breathing problems linked to toxic fumes from a sulfur plant that ISIS terrorists are suspected to have set on fire on Thursday, said sources at the hospital of Qayyara, reporting no deaths at the medical facility itself.

The fumes prompted U.S. forces at Iraq’s Qayyara West airfield to put on protective masks.

A cloud of white smoke blanketed the region to the north, where the factory is located, mingling with black fumes from oil wells that the militants torched to cover their moves.

The Iraqi army’s media office said about 50 villages had been taken from the militants since Monday in operations to prepare the main thrust into Mosul itself, where 5,000 to 6,000 ISIS terrorists are dug in, according to Iraqi estimates.

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