Periodically, thousands of people too poor to pay their water bills get their water shut off, as is happening in Baltimore right now and happened in Detroit last year.
People (including a huge number of Catholics) who do not understand the Church’s teaching cheer for this, because at bottom, they believe that man was made for the laws of economics and not the laws of economics for man. They believe, just like abortion-supporters, that there are things more important than the right to life (in this case, money) and they believe that property is an absolute right and not (as the Church teaches) subordinate to the universal destination of goods.
The Church, being full of common sense, says otherwise, to the complete incredulity of a disturbing number of Catholics:
484. The principle of the universal destination of goods also applies naturally to water, considered in the Sacred Scriptures as a symbol of purification (cf. Ps 51:4; Jn 13:8) and of life (cf. Jn 3:5; Gal 3:27). “As a gift from God, water is a vital element essential to survival; thus, everyone has a right to it”. Satisfying the needs of all, especially of those who live in poverty, must guide the use of water and the services connected with it. Inadequate access to safe drinking water affects the well-being of a huge number of people and is often the cause of disease, suffering, conflicts, poverty and even death. For a suitable solution to this problem, it “must be set in context in order to establish moral criteria based precisely on the value of life and the respect for the rights and dignity of all human beings”.
485. By its very nature water cannot be treated as just another commodity among many, and it must be used rationally and in solidarity with others. The distribution of water is traditionally among the responsibilities that fall to public agencies, since water is considered a public good. If water distribution is entrusted to the private sector it should still be considered a public good. The right to water, as all human rights, finds its basis in human dignity and not in any kind of merely quantitative assessment that considers water as a merely economic good. Without water, life is threatened. Therefore, the right to safe drinking water is a universal and inalienable right.