Forward on the Feast of Saint Francis

With a growing fossil fuel divestment movement, Catholics around the world are putting into action the teachings of Laudato Si’

As the universal church joins together Tuesday for the Feast of Saint Francis, Catholics across the globe are increasingly putting into practice the Church's ecological teachings as espoused by Pope Francis, his predecessors, and a good many bishops.

The big news today is the coordinated announcements of some half-dozen Catholic organizations who are divesting from holdings and investments that are tied to fossil fuels.

The groups include the Jesuits in English Canada; the Italy-based Federation of Christian Organizations for the International Voluntary Service; the Presentation Society of Australia and Papua New Guinea; the Catholic SSM Health network in the United States; the Diocese of the Holy Spirit of Umuaramá in the Brazilian state of Paraná; the Hong Kong-based Missionary Society of St. Columban (with a global presence in some fourteen countries); and the Italy-based Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco—Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.

Read more on Saint Francis from Catholic Ecology here: St. Francis: beyond the garden statues

These organizational divestment efforts come a year after the continental Associations of Bishops’ Conferences issued a statement prior to the COP 21 international climate talks that, in part, called for “new models of development and lifestyles that are climate compatible, address inequality and bring people out of poverty,” and can only be done by putting “an end to the fossil fuel era, phasing out fossil fuel emissions, including emissions from military, aviation and shipping, and providing affordable, reliable and safe renewable energy access for all.”

Since then, the divestment movement within Catholic circles has taken on steam as growing bodies of data show increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and increasing global temperatures, and the effects thereof. It is hoped that with the COP 22 talks only weeks away, news of growing divestment efforts within the Catholic Church will motivate others to do the same.

While some have expressed concern over the impact of divestment on investments such as retirement funds, preliminary data shows that divesting from fossil fuels does not harm fund performance.

Read more on Saint Francis from Catholic Ecology here: Three St. Francis lessons for Catholic ecologists

Moreover, it should be noted that Catholics entering the divestment movement bring a unique motivation: the salvation of not just the planet, but the people who work in the fossil fuel industry. In their announcement today, the Columbans explain that their intent is not meant to financially bankrupt the fossil fuel industry, but rather to prompt them to invest in and profit from renewable energies.

Something tells me that Saint Francis would approve of all this.

Stay tuned for more announcements soon as more Catholic groups, especially universities, divest from fossil fuels.

And in the meantime, a blessed Feast of Saint Francis to you and yours.

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About the Blog

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.