On Earth Day, April 22, a global coalition of Catholic institutions announced their divestment from fossil fuels.
They include Caritas Internationalis, a Vatican-affiliated humanitarian assistance organization, Catholic banks with €7.5 billion on their balance sheets, and dozens of religious orders and lay movements.
This group of 35 joins 60 Catholic organizations that previously divested. The full list of institutions that divested in this announcement is here.
A video to celebrate the announcement, created by Years of Living Dangerously, is here. The story was covered widely in international press, including Catholic News Service and Vatican news, and in an op-ed in the National Catholic Reporter.
Their commitments represent a major step forward in the worldwide Catholic movement to protect creation by addressing climate change. These institutions see that climate change harms the human family, and are most vulnerable sisters and brothers above all.
For institutions like Caritas Internationalis, divesting from fossil fuels serves their mission to address the root causes of suffering and protect “the least of these.”
Its president, Cardinal Luis Tagle, said “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. We encourage our member organizations and other groups or organizations connected to the Church to do the same.”
Leading Catholic banks see that institutional investors want to promote social welfare, both for the well-being of their children and grandchildren and to build a better world today.
For these financial institutions, maintaining the status quo in funding dirty energy doesn’t serve the long-term well-being of their clients. Divestment is an opportunity to do good as they are doing well.
Archdioceses and dioceses are stepping forward to divest. In France, Italy, and Luxembourg, their commitment is another sign that the Church is in the lead when it comes to protecting creation.
The Archbishop of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Hollerich, 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.
The Global Catholic Climate Movement is among the organizations that announces its divestment today.
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.”
The move coincides with a call from Pope Francis to institute morally sound financial practices. The pope has dedicated the month of April to prayers for the economy, asking us to pray “that economists may have the courage to reject any economy of exclusion and know how to open new paths,” and released a video:
In reaction to the news, 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.”