Catholic institutions disinvest millions from fossil fuels

Caritas International president, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle.

By Khanyile Mlotshwa

THE Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) has announced a massive divestment from fossil fuels by 35 Catholic institutions including parishes and a group of banks across the world. The disinvestment reportedly runs into millions of dollars.

GCCM  Executive Director, Tomás Insua said “stepping away from the fuels that drive climate change is Catholic witness in the world”.

“There is an incredible group of institutions in this announcement, including Caritas Internationalis, Catholic banks with balance sheets of €7.5 billion, archdioceses, and more.

They come from around the world, and represent backgrounds as diverse as the fast-paced world of global finance and the quiet, deep work of women religious.

Institutions that have divested from fossil fuels industries – oil, coal and gas – include church charities and the Steyler group of banks.

These organisations have said fighting climate change is a ‘moral imperative’ and, to date, over 90 Catholic institutions have joined the push to divest from fossil fuels.

In 2014, the Franciscan Sisters of Mary, a congregation of women religious, removed all public companies that extract, hold and sell fossil fuel reserves from their investment portfolios.

The Caritas International president, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, pointed out that the poor are “suffering greatly from the climate crisis” and investments in fossil fuels was “among the main drivers of this injustice”.

“That is why Caritas Internationalis has decided not to invest in fossil fuels anymore,” he said. “For Caritas and for all of us, divesting from fossil fuels addresses the root causes of poverty. It’s one way we serve ‘the least of these.’

“When it comes to protecting our common home, we have not a moment to lose. Divesting from fossil fuels puts love into action, bending the arc of emissions downward to protect our sisters and brothers around the world.”

Caritas Internationalis is an international humanitarian aid group and an official part of the Vatican.

The move by Catholic institutions is seen as a response to the call by the church’s leader, Pope Francis, in his encyclical, Laudato Si, where he points out that, “technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels . . . needs to be progressively replaced without delay.”