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Several Catholic institutions divest from fossil fuels

Forty-seven faith-based institutions commit to divest from fossil fuels, following the Vatican’s guidelines on ethical investments.

By Vatican News staff writer

Global efforts to promote divestment from fossil fuels expanded further as 47 faith institutions announced their divestment from fossil fuels on Monday, in the largest-ever announcement of its kind among religious leaders. 

The Global Catholic Climate Movement in a statement said that 42 Catholic institutions and five other additional protestant and Jewish institutions have severed ties with the fossil fuel industry in a bid to help tackle the climate crisis. They join with nearly 400 other faith institutions that have divested from fossil fuels.

This announcement comes after the Vatican’s first-ever operational guidance on the environment was issued as part of the celebration of the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ 2015 Encyclical Laudato sí. The guidelines, signed by all of the Vatican’s dicasteries, encouraged Catholics to avoid investing in companies “that harm human or social ecology (for example, through abortion or the arms trade), or environmental ecology (for example, through the use of fossil fuels).”

Infographic map of faith institutions committed to divesting from fossil fuels
Infographic map of faith institutions committed to divesting from fossil fuels

Rooted in Social teaching

The Church’s commitment to clean energy finds its roots in its tradition of Catholic Social Teaching. 

On 16 November 1970, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Pope Paul VI reminded all that “everything is bound up together” in the “living design of the creator” and warned that we risked “provoking a veritable ecological catastrophe.”

Similarly, Pope Francis, in Laudato sí, reiterated that “everything is connected” in “one complex crisis which is both social and environmental.” The Pope also pointed out that “we still lack the culture needed to confront this crisis.”

Pope Francis has also convened an “Economy of Francesco” conference, scheduled to begin on 19 November 2020 to examine innovative ways Catholics are developing a sustainable economy, propelled by leadership from young people.

Commitment to solving the climate crisis

Fr. Manuel Barrios Prieto, Secretary-General of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (COMECE) said that the European Bishops joins the movement to divest from fossil fuels and encouraged others to also take concrete steps to solve the climate crisis.

He added that commitments to the Paris agreement is important, and the European Green Deal is a way of doing so, as “solving the climate crisis protects the human family from the dangers of a warming world, and decisive action is needed now more than ever.”

In the same vein, Inger Andersen, under-secretary-general of the UN and executive director of the UN Environmental Programme highlighted that “the economic power of faiths, turned to responsible investments and the green economy, can be a major driver of positive change, and an inspiration to others, as we rebuild better.”

16 November 2020, 09:49