The letter, on old-fashioned handmade paper, was sent in Italian (with digital signatures) and in Croatian and English. The letter was also conveyed to The Vatican by facsimile and email.
“Our signatures are but a handful of committed to the preservation of the Adriatic but this effort truly represents thousands of individuals who are daily engaged in a battle to preserve our planet. In sharing our efforts here I hope to inspire others to go on to do one thing today which leaves the world in a better place than it was when you woke up this morning,” said Teresa Fritschi from the group.
Below is a copy of the letter sent to Pope Francis.
His Holiness, Pope Francis PP
00120 Via del Pellegrino
Citta’ del Vaticano
and via email: [email protected]
7 July 2015
To Our Most Holy Father and Lord in Christ, Pope Francis:
We address You, protector of all people who have been deprived of their basic rights and as steward of our sacred planet. We are grateful beyond measure for Your dedication and commitment and we beseech Your Blessing and intervention on behalf of the Adriatic Sea and her surrounding areas, her ecosystems which abound in riches and the beauty of life, and on behalf Croatian citizens, and those who know no political boundary, entrusted with the care and preservation of these natural wonders and abundance. We are familiar with the fact that recently You have organized a Summit on climate and have read Your Encyclical on the environment. In the light of Your exhaustive knowledge of science, and actions in that regard, our people, Your Children in Christ numbering nearly 3.8 million Croatians, need Your wisdom and the protection which only the Holy See can offer.
The Republic of Croatia is a small Mediterranean country possessing a wonderful gift from God, the Adriatic Sea, which is a pearl of nature known throughout the world as one of the purest bodies of water on Earth. Ours is a rich coast consisting of bays and beaches and many islands and peninsulas, logically earning Croatia the moniker ‘A land of a thousand islands’. However the Adriatic is narrow and rather shallow for all intents and purposes, as she is nearly closed off from adjacent salt waters, she is in the form of a lake and as such it is vulnerable to any influence especially that of human disrespect and violation. Ever since our ancestors arrived here in the 7th century Croatians have cherished the purity and life offered by the sea, but today, we are threatened by the very real possibility of destruction of this treasure!
The Government of Croatia, with Prime Minister Zoran Milanović and Minister of Economy Ivan Vrdoljak, are promoting a frantic race for false profit and a short-term, and questionable economic growth policy, pushing us into various highly dangerous projects related to the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons, and, for this purpose they founded The Croatian Hydrocarbon Agency. Their plan would give over almost 90% of the Croatian Adriatic and a large part of the fertile mainland suitable for cultivation of food stuffs and the source drinking water for millions of Croatians to drill for, and secure the extraction of hydrocarbons. The Croatian people have been denied any right to participate in the decision process related to these all-important matters through our Parliament or by referendum. The Government has declared, of its own accord, that the research and exploitation of hydrocarbons from the Adriatic seabed and our mainland is a strategic issue, using the economic crisis in Croatia as their excuse. Furthermore, a practice of systematically censoring the media has been adopted by Croatian authorities and its public relations consultants ensuring that the general public is either entirely ignorant or nominally informed of all the possible social, ecological, economic, historic and cultural impacts of this extremely dangerous and harmful project. Our economic crisis, some say purposefully orchestrated, has forced our population into an existence of pure survival with little strength to actively enquire and engage in debate over the decisions made by the political elite.
Instead of cherishing and protecting our pearl, entrusted to them by domestic and international laws, the people and God, the Government, via the Croatian Hydrocarbon Agency, has already negotiated exploitation plans with foreign oil companies. Of their own volition, and for the singular purpose of creating a favorable framework for these projects, these individuals have created new laws which ignore international treaties, disdaining their own people and Constitution, all common sense and reason. Implausibly and impossibly they have offered drilling concessions for both natural gas and crude oil in close proximity to UNESCO protected and Natura 2000 designated lands, justifying their treachery, corruption and their insidious greed and that of the petrochemical companies using the ‘energy independence’ and ‘energy security’ rationale. Aside from your own words, the increased divestiture of fossil fuels from investment portfolios, the G7 recognise climate change as a global security threat and have agreed to actively pursue decarbonising the global economy and eliminating the use of fossil fuels by the end of this century.
The substrata of the central and southern Adriatic region is well documented as being extremely unstable, all of the proposed actions increase the risk of catastrophic earthquakes. Our fragile world and its people have witnessed far too many disasters caused by the indifference and carelessness accorded by major oil companies and their political partners resulting in endless tragedies to nature. Furthermore, the sound vibrations from powerful devices used by these companies in their exploratory actions and subsequent drilling, as well as chemicals they obtrude through the water and into the soil of the Earth during such activities are the cause of suffering and death for the many creatures that inhabit the sea, endanger flora and fauna and are the well-documented cause of pollution to continental ecosystems and drinking water.
The Republics of Slovenia and Italy have filed official diplomatic protests as a result of their exclusion from participation in the standard processes outlined by ESPOO, and in failing to receive copies of the studies conducted by the Croatian Government to the potential harms to be wrought on the Adriatic’s environment by the proposed hydrocarbon initiative. Further, some Members of the Croatian Parliament have submitted an Interpellation, later accepted by the Parliament Committee for Environmental Protection and Nature, which calls for the resignation of Minister of Economy Ivan Vrdoljak, specifically named with seven other ministers and members of their staffs, for mismanagement, conflict of interests and various ethics violations. And a group of noteworthy Croatian experts and common citizens alike have filed criminal charges against the Croatian Government and its agencies as implemented by the Ministry of Economy and the Croatian Hydrocarbon Agency for illegalities and significant procedural failures in connection with the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons in the Adriatic. Please follow these links to the aforementioned public notice (posted in Croatian and English).
We – responsible citizens of the Republic of Croatia and our global brethren – are rightfully concerned and very disturbed. The danger is now ‘at our door’ as contracts are scheduled to be signed by mid-July 2015. A national day of protest is now organized in Croatia for 11 July. A handful of important Croatian politicians along with the powerful from the oil industry have ignored our appeals to preserve our Adriatic pearl as well as the fertile land and sources of drinking water for our children and the whole mankind. They choose not to embrace sustainable development, or renewable energy sources developed from the abundance that the Lord offers us through sun, wind, waves and biomass, although Croatia offers highly favorable conditions and possibilities to do so. Our attitude is clear the exploratory activities and subsequent extraction of hydrocarbons from the bottom of the Adriatic Sea pose unnecessary risk to the vital and growing economies offered Croatia through tourism and fisheries. Drilling poses an imminent danger likely to destroy the delicate ecosystems and the flora and fauna found therein and as well as adversely affect the welfare of humankind. The same activities on the mainland will likewise negatively impact the health of the biosphere and all resources critical to the quality of drinking water, the ability of the soil to cultivate agriculture, and the inherent beauty God granted our land.
Humanity can no longer afford the use of fossil fuels and nor invest in their exploration and exploitation. The time has come to establish a new paradigm for energy creation and consumption, supported by appropriate policies at the national and international level, policies which would void concessions already granted in advance of actual drilling for hydrocarbons anywhere, particularly in fragile ecosystems such as the Adriatic, the Arctic and the east coast of the Atlantic at the Outer Banks. Please Holy Father, help us drive policy to divert the significant subsidies and tax breaks which Governments accord to oil corporations and instead invest these funds in technologies based upon renewable energies and clean technologies. Such a policy would enable greater economic growth in the energy sector and concurrently allow for the preservation and expansion of tourism, fisheries and agriculture.
Most Holy Father, please raise Your voice in support of our plight and denounce those who seek to destroy such beauty and abundance on behalf of profits. Your signal, a handful of words on this subject, will have a strong impact on the Croatian people, as well as Croatia’s politicians. Your voice of support would have enormous and positive impact in helping numerous eco-organizations and citizens, not only in Croatia, but also in all other countries of the Adriatic-Ionian region: Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia and Italy, where the struggle against these powerful, ruthless and lethal enemies lay siege to and are set to destroy what God has made.
It is in our faith that we supplicate our collective voices to You for help Holy Father. Humbly, we ask You to remember us in Your public speeches, in Your prayers and actions, and to make a special appeal for reason and grace regarding the salvation of the Adriatic Sea and her surroundings.
We would be honored if Your Holiness could find time to receive a group of our delegates in audience so that we might be able to further express our concerns about the scope of this very important matter; we enjoin Your positive response to our proposal and request and we thank You for Your time and consideration.
We extend our prayers to include You, may the Most High preserve You to his Holy Church in continued wisdom, success in Your noble efforts and grant You length of days.
Very truly yours, in faith.
The national day of protest against drilling is July 11th. More details here.