For the second time this year, a group of 40-plus faith-based organizations committed to avoiding investments in fossil fuels, pushing the number of Catholic groups making such public pledges to over 200.
On Monday, 47 religious institutions — 42 of them Catholic — announced they will end or continue to eschew financial holdings in coal, oil and natural gas, the energy sources that are driving increasing climate change on the planet.
Among the organizations, located in 21 countries, are the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union, Caritas Asia, three dioceses, 13 lay organizations and 20 religious congregations and associations — including the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the International Union of Superiors General, or UISG, the largest umbrella group of women religious congregations, representing 2,000 worldwide.
The announcement also includes the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests and the U.S.-based Catholic philanthropic network FADICA.
Along with them, four Christian groups in the United Kingdom — including the Southern and Thames North Synods of the United Reformed Church — and the human rights-focused American Jewish World Service also divested, making this the largest joint divestment announcement by faith institutions to date, according to organizers.
In May, another 42 faith organizations in 14 countries announced their intent to divest. Both joint announcements were the result of a campaign by the Global Catholic Climate Movement. In the last four years, its divest-invest campaign has organized eight such public declarations by Catholic groups.
Their mobilizing has helped make faith-based organizations the largest share of the 1,200 organizations and businesses worldwide that since 2012 have publicly pledged to divest more than $14 trillion. Of those, more than 220 have been within the Roman Catholic Church.
The latest divestment commitments from Catholic groups comes days before the scheduled start of a major summit convened by Pope Francis on creating a more sustainable economy. The Economy of Francesco conference will take place Nov. 19-21 online, as the coronavirus pandemic upended original plans to invite young economists, students and entrepreneurs to Assisi, Italy.
In May, the Vatican bank confirmed to EarthBeat that it does not maintain investments in fossil fuels. A month later, the Vatican issued operational guidelines on the environment for dioceses and parishes.
The guidelines, originally published in Italian but since released in English, include a section on finance that critiques the pursuit of short-term gains at the expense of long-term negative consequences for communities and ecosystems.
Specifically, it recommends speeding up investment in sustainable infrastructure and establishing ethical investment principles that “promote responsible investments in social and environmental sectors, for…
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