Romania's Latest Gabriel Resource Rebel: The Orthodox Church

Rosia Montana, Romania - The Sfantul Sinod, the highest council of Romania's Orthodox Church which has been meeting for the past few days under the patronage of the Teoctist, Romania's highest Church authority, yesterday released a resolution regarding the significance and impact of Gabriel Resources' Rosia Montana gold mining project. The Sfantul Sinod declared itself against the realization of the mining development, basing its decision on the Holy Scripture and on the Romanian Academy's position.

Rosia Montana Gold Corporation (RMGC) which is 80% owned by Canadian-based Gabriel Resources (TSX:GBU) intends to realize Europe's largest open cast gold mining project in Rosia Montana; entailing amongst other things the involuntary resettlement of over 2000 people. From its onset the development has been beleaguered with scandals and operational problems, including local, national and international opposition by both civil society and expert institutions.

Bartolomeu Anania, the Archbishop of Cluj, who was put in charge by the Sfantul Sinod to communicate the decision declared the following: "The Earth is God's Creation and has to be kept as it is. Mankind, who is its main beneficiary, is responsible for its state. RMGC's project involves the resettlement of churches and dead ones which is unacceptable in the Orthodox spirit and tradition. Our rituals have a real significance; in putting a cross on a grave we bury a dead one until Jesus Christ's second coming."

"We are talking about a private, commercial project and not about one in the national interest; therefore our resolution will have to be respected. The Sfantul Sinod based its decision after careful analysis of the documents submitted by RMGC and the Romanian Academy. The implementation of the project alone, will provoke a human, ecological, economic and cultural disaster; this not only in Rosia Montana but in the whole of the Apuseni Mountains. There are simply no guarantees that RMGC will be able to protect the area from a disaster. Importantly, we recently received numerous messages from all over the world which prove that civil society has been impatiently waiting for a clear position from our Church. We also have a moral responsibility towards the local population. Our decision therefore is not just a simple opinion, but a firm position against RMGC's mining project; it is a protest," said Bartholomeu Anania.

According to Adrian Dascalu, RMGC's public relations manager: "We are stupefied by the Church's attitude. A few days prior to the Sfantul Sinod's meeting we had a discussion with Romania's Patriarch. Its result was that the Rosia Montana issue is not in the competence of the Sfantul Sinod."

"We have just returned home from a vigil at the Patriarchy in Bucharest and are overjoyed that our prayers have been answered. Since five years the locals have been put under tremendous pressure and yesterday's decision feels like peace has finally come upon Rosia Montana. With the Patriarchy, the Romanian Academy, civil society and international expert institutions on our side, we are certain that justice and integrity now will prevail," said Eugen David, President of Alburnus Maior.

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For more information please contact Eugen David on +40 (0) 740 280309 or Stephanie Roth on +40 (0) 740 342104.

Constantin Stoica, head of the Orthodox Church's public relation department may be contacted on +40 (0) 21 4067167.

Decision adopted during the Sfantul Sinod meeting on 11 November 2003:

Considering on the one hand that according to Holy Scripture, the Earth is God's Creation and was created for mankind and on the other that the mining project planned by Canadian "Rosia Montana Gold Corporation" will both, from an ecological and social point of view, disfigure the Rosia Montana area and the Apuseni Mountains,

Taking into consideration the position adopted by the Romanian Academy which, via its expert institutions, reached the conclusion to oppose this project,

Bearing in mind that the Rosia Montana mining project involves the resettlement of churches and dead ones from the area, which is unacceptable to the Orthodox spirit and tradition,

The Sfantul Sinod of the Romanian Orthodox Church herewith declares itself against the realization of "Rosia Montana Gold Corporation's" mining project and hopes that the area will remain untouched in its sacredness, purity and beauty.