It was with a sense of incredulity during investigations into the oil and gas exploration concession blocks allocated to an Australian energy company, that ASMAA found that block 7-44 of concession area 79, covered one of the most important Catholic shrines in the world - the Sanctuary of Fátima.
In disbelief, the coordinates block was checked and re-checked, time and time again, but the result was always the same - in its centenary year the Sanctuary of Fátima is in an oil and gas exploration zone.
This holiest of places is covered by a concession area, granted to Australis Oil and Gas Portugal on 30 September 2015 just four days before a general election. The company is licensed to explore for oil and gas and can extract deposits using controversial fracking technology. To read more about it click here.
(Extract from contract indicating that hydraulic fracturing - Fracking is indeed expected)
Portugal is a Catholic country, with more than 80% of population regarding themselves as Catholics. The Sanctuary of Fátima plays a central role in Portuguese culture and faith. The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima is one of the most visited religious sites in the world. With a population of 12,000, the town is visited by over five million tourists and pilgrims each year.
But Fátima now is under serious threat from fracking.
On the 21 December, a demonstration will take place in front of Portuguese Parliament building in Lisbon. One of ASMAA’s petitions objecting to deep offshore drilling is to be debated and voted on by MPs from the various political parties.
ASMAA invites YOU to use this event to add your voice to its tens of thousands of supporters and demand that fracking is banned in Portugal, and that all oil and gas contracts, onshore and offshore, and all the oil and gas concession areas, be cancelled with immediate effect.
In 2011, Sr. Mary Cunningham wrote the following about fracking which you can read here. An excerpt reads:
“ While the economic, scientific, legal and medical aspects of fracking call for careful investigation, discerning Catholic Christians, we are called to address the ethical questions raised by fracking. Blessed with a rich faith tradition, we are committed to shared values. We cannot help but be awestruck when we reflect on the wonder and diversity of all God has fashioned in the 13.7 billion years of creation’s unfolding.
What is our responsibility in protecting and handing on these gifts to future generations? Catholic Social Teaching reminds us that “Care for the earth . . . is a requirement of our faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of God’s creation. This environmental challenge has fundamental moral and ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored.”
Across the world, Bishops “ask the members of our Church to examine our life-styles, behaviours, and policies, individually and institutionally – to see how we contribute to the destruction or neglect of the environment and how we might assist in its protection and restoration . . .”
Pope John Paul II said, “respect for life and the dignity of the human person extends also to the rest of creation.”
ASMAA totally agrees with Sr. Mary Cunningham, and urges you to join us in our fight to protect not only the Sanctuary of Fatima, but everything that will be negatively affected should oil and gas drilling goes ahead in Portugal.
We urge you to email Portuguese government representatives at a national and local level. As Sr. Mary Cunningham says, “The worst thing we can do is act helpless, hopeless, or clueless. Our Constitution guarantees the human right to clean air and clean water. Does not our faith call us to action on our own behalf and that of the human community?”
To Donate to support our fight against oil exploration including supporting legal costs please click here.
To find out more about Fátima, Portugal, click here.
Map showing the area under threat of Fracking in the Pombal and Batalha concessions