SACRAMENTO - As California faces what may be its worst drought in modern times, the President of the California Catholic Conference of Bishops is calling on people of all faiths to pray for rain.
In aletter sent to all10 million Catholics in California, Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento said, "water is essential to who we are as human beings. Our reliance on water reveals how much we are a part of creation and creation is a part of us."
Theletter urges local parishes to offer this prayer at upcoming services:
"May God open the heavens and let His mercy rain down upon our fields and mountains. Let us especially pray for those most impacted by water shortages and for the wisdom and charity to be good stewards of this precious gift. May our political leaders seek the common good as we learn to care and share God's gift of water for the good of all."
Communications Director for the Diocese of Sacramento Father James Murphy said the call for prayer is a reflection of how seriously the church regards the drought conditions in California.
"It is to all 12 dioceses, all 1,100 parishes,10 million Catholics in the state, saying to them this is serious," Murphy said.
"If current trends continue, the 38 million residents of California could face many economic, health, safety and quality of life challenges from the current water shortage," the letter said.
The letter points out the risk of wildfires and the loss of jobs a drought would bring.
"Not just for drinking, but for food production, for sanitation, for the production of electrical power," Murphy said."And it's so all-pervasive."
Reaction to the Bishop's call seemed positive, even among those who are not devout Catholics.
In Sacramento, a man who said he was Jewish, and gave his name only as Howard, said, "I see nothing wrong with that. As a matter of fact, it might be just what's necessary. Who knows?"
Sacramento resident Michael Wright agreed that there's no harm in turning to prayer.
"Prayer is a kind of a meditation to seek items in this universe that you'd like to come forward," Wright said.
"God can do anything. And if we need rain, just ask him," Sacramento resident Karen Newsome, who is not Catholic, said."And if you believe, it will happen. So, good for the bishops."
Murphy said the Church is especially concerned about agricultural areas that have already been negatively affected.
"In the farming areas, the unemployment rate in California is higher than the national average," Murphy said. "This will make it worse. It will affect people's livelihood."