05:44 GMT +325 September 2017
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    St. Peter's Square, Vatican City

    Pope to the Rescue: Vatican Fountains Go Off to Help Rome Get Through Drought

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    Pope Francis has decided to shut down 100 fountains in the Vatican over the next few days in a bid to help the city of Rome survive a severe drought.

    "This is the Vatican's way of living in solidarity with Rome, trying to help Rome get through this crisis," Greg Burke, a Vatican spokesperson said in a recent interview. 

    According to Mr. Burke, this is the first time that the Vatican, which is home to over 1.2 billion Catholics, has been forced to turn off the fountains.

    ​Two fountains, which sit in St. Peter's square in the Vatican, were sculpted by the late 17th century sculptors Carlo Mademo and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. These are just two of the 100 fountains the Vatican has turned off.

    The Vatican has had concerns surrounding the environment for years, and Pope Francis demanded swift action be taken by world leaders in the first-ever papal document dedicated to the environment, published in 2015.

    The encyclical — a formal teaching document — also laid out his fears for the future of the world's environment.

    "This decision is very much in line with the pope's thinking on ecology: you can't waste and sometimes you have to be willing to make a sacrifice," Mr. Burke said.

    The drought in Rome has also forced the authorities to shut off drinking fountains.

    Rome has received 72 percent less rainfall than normal in July 2017.

    This came after 74 percent less than normal precipitation in June, and a 56 percent reduction in rainfall from the long-term average in March to May 2017.

    Meteorologists have claimed that spring 2017 was Italy's third-driest in 60 years. 

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    Tags:
    temperature changes, rainfall, fountains, crisis, drought, water, climate, environment, climate change, weather, Vatican, Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, Vatican City, Italy, Europe
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