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On World Water Day, Pope says Earth's water should be protected, available to everyone

PORTERVILLE, CA - SEPTEMBER 04:  Mario Garcia fills buckets with non-potable water from a tank set up in front of the Doyle Colony Fire Station on September 4, 2014 in Porterville, California. More than 300 homes in the California central valley city of Porterville have been without running water for weeks after their wells ran dry due to the severe drought. County officials and charitable organizations are providing drinking water and non-potable water for use in washing dishes and bathing.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

PORTERVILLE, CA - SEPTEMBER 04: Mario Garcia fills buckets with non-potable water from a tank set up in front of the Doyle Colony Fire Station on September 4, 2014 in Porterville, California. More than 300 homes in the California central valley city of Porterville have been without running water for weeks after their wells ran dry due to the severe drought. County officials and charitable organizations are providing drinking water and non-potable water for use in washing dishes and bathing. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)  (2014 Getty Images)

Pope Francis is encouraging the world to ensure its water supplies are protected and available to all.

Francis noted the United Nations was marking Sunday as an occasion to draw attention to water's importance.

He quoted St. Francis of Assisi, who inspired his choice of name as pope, in praising water for its usefulness and purity.

Francis intends to detail his views on the environment soon in an encyclical, a Vatican position paper reserved for important matters.

Speaking to the public in St. Peter's Square, the pope called water "the most essential element for life" and said "humanity's future depends on our ability to care for it and share it."

He encouraged governments to ensure that water supplies are protected and accessible to all.

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