Leading Catholic organisations divest from fossil fuels

| 25th April 2018
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As an increasing number of leading international institutions are being called out for their investments in fossil fuels, a group of prominent Catholic organisations has become the latest to divest and are urging other church members to do the same, writes CATHERINE HARTE

The poor are suffering greatly from the climate crisis and fossil fuels are among the main drivers of this injustice. That is why Caritas Internationalis has decided not to invest in fossil fuels anymore.

A group of major Catholic institutions including the Vatican City based aid organistion Caritas Internationalis has announced divestment from fossil fuels.

The group also includes three leading Catholic banks with balance sheets totalling approximately €7.5 billion, several dioceses, and an international coalition of Catholic institutions. This latest group of just over 30 joins the 60 Catholic organisations which have already divested.

H.E. Cardinal Luis Tagle, president of Caritas Internationalis, said “The poor are suffering greatly from the climate crisis and fossil fuels are among the main drivers of this injustice.

Moral values

"That is why Caritas Internationalis has decided not to invest in fossil fuels anymore. We encourage our member organisations and other groups or organisations connected to the Church to do the same.”

Leading Catholic banks Pax Bank, Bank Im Bistum Essen eG, and Steyler Ethik Bank are among this latest group to divest together with the archdiocese of Luxembourg, the archdiocese of Salerno-Campagna-Acerno, and the diocese of Communauté Mission de France.

Jean-Claude Hollerich, the Archbishop of Luxembourg  said, “Along with our brothers and sisters in the Church, we, the bishops, are increasingly committed to making financial decisions that are in line with our moral values.

"Divestment is an important way for the Church to show leadership in the context of a changing climate. Praise be to all those who serve 'the least of these' by protecting the environment.”

Archbishop Hollerich also serves as president of COMECE, the community of bishops that monitors policy in the European Union, and the president of Justice and Peace Europe, a network of 31 justice and peace commissions of bishops’ conferences.

Sending an important signal

John O'Shaughnessy, the founder of the Catholic Impact Investing Collaborative, a group of Catholic institutions that collectively manage over $50 billion in assets, said "Divestment from fossil fuels sends an important signal.

"Financial institutions are well aware that these investments are not sustainable, and indeed that they do long-term harm to their investors and the wider community. Increasingly, wise financial managers are moving away from dirty energy and towards a clean, sustainable future."

This joint Catholic commitment to divest from fossil fuels was coordinated by Global Catholic Climate Movement, which also announced its divestment .

Tomás Insua, its executive director, said “When it comes to protecting our common home, we have not a moment to lose. Divesting from fossil fuels is important to bending the arc of emissions downward soon.

"We are grateful to join the growing movement of Catholic institutions away from dirty energy and toward better care of creation. Church leadership on this issue has never been more important.”

This Author

Catherine Harte is a contributing editor of The Ecologist. This story is based on a news release from Global Catholic Climate Movement.