35 catholic organizations and institutions announced yesterday their decision to divest from fossil fuels as the main drivers of the climate crisis. Caritas Internationalis – a confederation of 165 Catholic relief, development and social service organisations operating in over 200 countries and territories and an official institution of the Catholic Church – is among the institutions who commit to divest from fossil fuels.
Also three Catholic banks worth €7.5bn, bishops worldwide and an international coalition of Catholic institutions – the Global Catholic Climate Movement – have all decided to sever ties with the fossil fuel industry, whether in the form of partial or full commitments to go fossil free. They join 60 Catholic organizations that recently divested, signaling the growing strength of the divestment movement within the Catholic Church.
The recent drive for divestment in the Catholic Church has been fueled by the groundbreaking Papal encyclical Laudato sì – released in June 2015 in the lead-up to the Paris climate change conference -, in which Pope Francis stressed humanity’s responsibility to care for the Earth. Yesterday’s announcement is a big step forward, raising hopes that the Vatican itself will soon commit to divest its assets from fossil fuels.
The campaign to divest from fossil fuels is the fastest growing divestment campaign in history. As of today, over 850 institutions representing $6.1 trillion globally have announced divestment commitments.
“Private citizens, funds and institutions determined to give not a penny more to dirty energy are eroding the economic and cultural capital of the fossil fuel industry, paving the way for a fast and just transition to 100% renewable energy for all. By divesting their assets from fossil fuels, they are reducing the ability for big oil, coal and gas companies to develop new extraction projects, while citizens worldwide are rising to stop these projects in their communities,” said Yossi Cadan, Global Divestment Senior Campaigner at 350.org.
Caritas Internationalis’ president, H.E. 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.”
The decision of Caritas Internationalis to divest is matched by leading Catholic banks, which are divesting from fossil fuels to give Catholic institutional investors responsible options and to address climate change. Pax Bank, Bank Im Bistum Essen eG, and Steyler Ethik Bank are among the institutions that have announced their divestment yesterday. In total, these financial institutions control balance sheets of approximately €7.5 billion.
Top Church officials, including bishops, are also spearheading the global and diverse movement for divestment. The archdiocese of Luxembourg, the archdiocese of Salerno-Campagna-Acerno, and the diocese of Communauté Mission de France have announced divestment by their dioceses yesterday.
Yesterday’s commitments to divest from fossil fuels were 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.”