Church Groups Dump Fossil Fuel
Forty Catholic institutions worldwide, including the social welfare agency of the archdiocese of Cape Town and the Belgian bishops’ conference, have decided to divest from fossil fuel companies.
Applying Laudato Si
The organisations cited the call of Pope Francis in his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’, On Care for Our Common Home, to take steps to protect the environment as well as the importance of making investments that lead to a carbon-neutral economy in an effort to address climate change.
In most cases, divestment is expected to take several years to accomplish.
“What is clear is that momentum in fossil fuel divestment is growing a lot. This is a very concrete sign of the voice of the Catholic community,” said Tomas Insua, executive director of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, which organised the effort.
“These 40 institutions are taking a moral stand and are sending a very clear message to governments and the fossil fuel industry that their business model is not aligned with a healthy climate and a sustainable society,” Mr Insua said.
More than $5 Trillion
The value of investments the institutions committed to divest totals more than $5 trillion, the Catholic climate group reported.
Divestment from fossil fuels is one way to “look at how one applies the teachings” of Laudato Si’, said Kevin Roussel, executive director of Catholic Welfare and Development in Cape Town.
“We definitely are telling others in our journey” of implementing the encyclical, Mr Roussel said. “We’re finding a lot of people exactly in the same place [of wanting to divest]. They’re just not sure about the how, not whether they should. What we’re doing is sharing in the how we’re doing it. That’s quite a big step.”
In Italy’s diocese of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino, Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino explained that divestment was following the example of St Francis of Assisi in his love for creation.
“With the aim to promote an integral ecology in which ‘everything is interconnected’, the Church that hears ‘both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor’ cannot stay indifferent in front of the catastrophic consequences of climate change that are unfairly affecting poor and vulnerable communities,” the archbishop said. By Dennis Sadowski, CNS