Adelaide Archbishop blesses Murray River

Archbishop Philip Wilson yesterday blessed River Murray, as South Australians braced for what may be one of their driest winters on record.

The Advertiser reports that the state has already endured the driest autumn since records were first kept more than 100 years ago.

"As a bishop who lives and works in the Murray Darling Basin, I am calling on all South Australians to acknowledge the life-giving gift of the River Murray," the Archbishop said. "While much work has been done to improve the health of the river system, we must continue to live more sustainably to ensure God's gift of water exists for generations to come."

Archbishop Wilson was among 11 Catholic bishops living in the Murray Darling Basin region who last October issued a pastoral statement acknowledging the region as critically important to Australia's economy, culture and ecology.

They said the restoration of the health of the Murray and other rivers in the basin was one of the most urgent issues facing the country.

Archbishop Wilson said little had changed in the eight months since the statement with ongoing drought conditions expected to result in a further deterioration of the Murray.

"The spiritual, economic and environmental stakes are too high for us to keep believing the River Murray will restore itself to good health," he said.

"We must take responsibility and act now through the simplest of gestures such as taking shorter showers or fixing a dripping tap.

Meanwhile the Canberra Times reports that "the Lord may have pre-empted the faithful if weekend rain falls as forecast". Catholics were planning to pray for rain on Sunday, but their prayers may well be answered early, with 10-20mm forecast to fall in Canberra on Saturday and up to 30mm expected in parts of southern NSW. Significant rains have already fallen in Victoria, south-east South Australia, and south-west NSW.

Archbishop Francis Carroll has urged the faithful to pray for rain on Sunday, and his calls have been echoed by Anglican Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn, George Browning.

"I did put out this message well before this forecast," Archbishop Carroll said on Wednesday. "And even if we get one good fall of rain, we'll still be in drought conditions unless we get another, then another."

Archbishop to bless the Murray (The Advertiser/Australian Associated Press 9/6/05)
Rainfall forecast helps farmers keep the faith (Canberra Times 9/6/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Earthcare Australia
Weatherzone - Breaking Weather

Bishops' riverboat launch of Murray-Darling pastoral statement I(CathNews 11/10/04)

River Murray - a divine gift not to be wasted (Catholic Communications Adelaide 9/6/05)
Rain to buoy spirits but not break the drought (Sydney Morning Herald 10/6/05)

10 Jun 2005