We sincerely encourage everyone to pay attention to our common duty to take care of the environment. The Judeo-Christian tradition has always understood the environment as a gift from God. From ancient times, the peoples of the Carpathian region have recognized this gift in our generous and beautiful lands, virgin forests, clear water and blue sky. Based on this tradition, Pope Francis in his encyclical “Laudato Si” (2015) called on all the world’s leaders and people to unite to defend the gift of our common home – Creation – Nature.
Unfortunately, various environmental challenges in the Carpathians and, in particular, the attempt to build the largest ski resort in the Carpathians on Svydovets are now presented as public proposals to satisfy various economic, social, political and ideological interests. On behalf of care for Creation, we urge everyone – from an ethical and moral point of view – to rise above temporary interests and economic benefits to protect the unique Svydovets mountain range from construction. It is especially important to take into account that Svydovets is home to dozens of rare and endangered species of animals and plants, which are listed in the Red Book of Ukraine. We have one common home – the Carpathians, – and most of all, we must protect it from excessive human interference. Protection of nature in the Carpathians is an important issue of justice among generations: it is necessary to predict what exactly we will leave as a legacy: deforestation, parched and polluted waterways, destroyed soils and biodiversity, abandoned mountains and climate change.
The Holy Father emphasizes that tourism should promote the holistic development of man, focusing on the quality, solidarity and sustainability of the environment. What is the environmental sustainability of this projeсt? According to its published plans the area of the mega-resort will be nearly 1,500 hectares, and accommodate more than 20,000 visitors in dozens of hotels and restaurants, shops, shopping centers and hundreds of cottages. The total length of ski trails will reach 230 km.: this is more than the distance from Uzhhorod to Rakhiv!
It is not necessary to be an expert to understand what damage such a resort will cause, being the size of a town, high in the mountains, and how much it takes to cut down forests and destroy meadows. It is also not difficult to imagine the reaction of our neighbors downstream of the Tisza from more than 4,000 m3 of wastewater that this resort will produce daily. Is it really necessary for investors to concentrate all this infrastructure on Svydovets and destroy the nature of this unique mountain massif?
“The nature of our Carpathians is a great gift of God. Today, this is the most valuable gift we can have. And we must do everything to save it”: this was repeated many times by the Bishop of the Mukachevo Greek Catholic Eparchy, Milan Sasik, now deceased, the defender of nature of the Carpathians. The Church’s voice supports the voices of local activists, scientists, environmentalists, the poor and disadvantaged, and all people of good will. Only united together, will we be able to stand and protect Svydovets in its original form for future generations. This goal is the embodiment of Christian values in relation to God’s Creation – the surrounding nature, given by God to people together with the Word, and the desire to live in harmony with all these gifts of the Lord.
We ask our pastors to spread this appeal in their parish communities, emphasizing among the faithful the ecological and spiritual value of the Svydovets mountain range and our responsibility for Creation.
We want to assure everyone that the grains sown by us for a responsible attitude to Svydovets and its preservation in its original form will sprout into good deeds in the future, and give us hope for the opportunity to change our whole life and the surrounding reality.
Bishop Nil Lushchak
Apostolic Administrator of the Mukachevo Greek Catholic Eparchy,
Head of the Commission on Ecology
Bishop Antal Majnek
Ordinary of the Diocese of Mukachevo,
Head of Commission on Ecology and Migrants
of the Conference of Roman Catholic Bishops in Ukraine