Catholic groups say ‘no’ to fossil fuel investments

Ahead of secular international gatherings, nine Catholics groups announce the largest joint Catholic divestment to date from fossil fuels

Nine Catholic organizations from around the world today declared their intent to divest their investment portfolios from coal, oil and gas companies. According to the Global Catholic Climate Movement, this is the largest joint Catholic fossil fuel divestment to date.

The groups—including religious orders and dioceses from the United Kingdom, the United States, and Italy—made the announcement ahead of international negotiations this month on implementing measures in the Paris Agreement on climate change. The announcement also comes in preparation for the two-year anniversary of Pope Francis’s eco-encyclical Laudato Si’.

Fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas are the chief contributors of the greenhouse gas emissions, which are stressing the world’s poorest communities as emissions alter planetary levels of thermal energy and moisture. According to data published jointly the USA-based National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), global temperatures in 2016 were the hottest year since records began, as were the two previous years.

The coordinated announcement to divest from fossil fuels comes as Rome continues to encourage unified global action on eco issues—as evidenced by a January conference at the Pontifical Lateran University sponsored by Catholic charitable organizations and the Global Catholic Climate Movement. The gathering, Laudato Si & Catholic Investing: Clean Energy for our Common Home, was attended by Cardinal Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery of Integrated Human Development and one of the Pope’s closest advisors on environmental issues.

Announcing their intent to divest from fossil fuels are:

  • The Mission Congregation of the Servants of the Holy Spirit (Global, General Curia)
  • The Diocese of Pescara (Italy)
  • Il Dialogo (Italy)
  • The Italian Jesuits (Italy)
  • Rete Interdiocesana Nuovi Stili di Vita (Italy)
  • Siloe Monastic Community (Italy)
  • MGR Foundation (USA)
  • The Wheaton Franciscan Sisters, Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (USA)
  • St Joseph's Province of the Congregation of the Passion - English Province of the Passionists (UK)

The Italian Jesuits are now the second national Jesuit group to have divested in response to the call to care for creation of their fellow Jesuit Pope Francis. The Siloe Monastic Community is the first Catholic monastic community in the world to divest. The Diocese of Pescara becomes the second diocese to have divested to date, while the Diocese of Bologna together with the Italian Bishops Conference and the Catholic NGO coalition FOCSIV will promote divestment issues during a conference on June 8th in the presence of the Italian environment minister Gian Luca Galletti two days before he heads to the G7 environment ministers meeting in Rome. In October 2016, seven Catholic institutions divesting jointly set in October 2016.

With the addition of the nine announced today, a total of 27 Catholic institutions have now divested or begun steps to do so.

His Excellency, Archbishop Tommaso Valentinetti of Pescara-Penne said in press materials for the announcement that his diocese’s divestment from fossil fuels “aims to be a first concrete commitment in the logic of the integral ecology and the care of the common home, which Pope Francis called us to in the encyclical letter Laudato Si'.”

With some of the world’s most powerful leaders meeting for the G7 Summit in Sicily from May 26-27, and with almost 200 countries meeting in Bonn from May 8-18 for United Nations negotiations on important technical details to the framework of the Paris Agreement, the divestment sends a powerful signal of the momentum behind and popular support for ambitious action on climate change.

“The Catholic response to climate change is gathering momentum exponentially,” said Tomas Insua, Executive Director of the Global Catholic Climate Movement. “From refusing to invest in fossil fuels to installing solar panels on church roofs, more and more Catholics are taking concrete actions to protect creation and the vulnerable in their communities and beyond. This momentum is something that should not go unnoticed by world leaders meeting for the G7 Summit before they return home to turn politics to policy.”

Visit here for more information on Catholic divestment announcements.

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Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.