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VATICAN-EXPO (UPDATED) May-20-2008 (340 words) With photos posted May 19. xxxi

Vatican to participate in expo on water, sustainable development

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican said it hopes its participation in a world exposition on water will remind people of their responsibility to safeguard and share this "precious gift."

Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said because water is essential to survival everyone, especially the poor, has a right to it.

Cardinal Martino said that through its presence at the June 14-Sept. 14 Expo Zaragoza 2008 the Vatican hopes "the role of humanity in protecting water will be enhanced."

The cardinal was one of a number of speakers at a May 19 Vatican press conference unveiling plans for the Vatican pavilion at the expo in the northern Spanish city of Zaragoza. The expo is also dedicated to sustainable development.

Organizers said 104 nations and organizations were to be represented at the expo -- each with a 6,000-square-foot pavilion.

Cardinal Martino noted that much of what has been said recently about the earth and its resources has been "gloom and doom."

Such a catastrophic vision of the future "is paralyzing," he said, and therefore the Vatican wanted to "concentrate on water as an integral part of our Catholic faith" and "to look at what people can do while facing these threats" such as global warming and desertification.

The Vatican wants "to celebrate water as a life-giving sign of the presence of God in creation," he said.

Cardinal Martino also announced that July 10-12 the Vatican and the Archdiocese of Zaragoza will host an international congress on ecology.

Congress participants will give talks on intelligent design and people's ethical responsibility toward nature and human life, as well as the contributions of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism on ecological issues, said congress brochures.

The physical and spiritual qualities of water will be represented in the pavilion with 38 works of art from collections in Spain and the Vatican Museums, including the large bronze font popes use for baptisms in St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel.


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