Over 40 Catholic institutions have been said to be part of the largest ever faith-based divestment from fossil fuels. The number of churches that are involved have been said to be led by investors worth $5.5tn and fully supported by the UN.
Christiana Figueres, the former UN climate chief who helped negotiate the Paris climate agreement, hailed Tuesday’s move as “a further sign we are on the way to achieving our collective mission”.
She said: “I hope we will see more leaders like these 40 Catholic institutions commit, because while this decision makes smart financial sense, acting collectively to deliver a better future for everybody is also our moral imperative.”
South Africa did not shy away from the movement with the Archdiocese of Cape Town making the list alongside the Episcopal Conference of Belgium and the diocese of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino, the spiritual home of the world’s Franciscan brothers and many more.
Furthermore a spokesman for the €4.5bn German Church bank and Catholic relief organisation Caritas said that it was committing to divest from coal, tar sands and shale oil.
Assisi’s mayor, Stefania Proietti – a former climate mitigation professor – told the Guardian: “When we pay attention to the environment, we pay attention to poor people, who are the first victims of climate change.
“When we invest in fossil fuels, we stray very far from social justice. But when we disinvest and invest in renewable and energy efficiency instead, we can mitigate climate change, create a sustainable new economic deal and, most importantly, help the poor.”
The Italian town of Assisi, which St. Francis called home, is also taking part in this divestment movement, as both the local church diocese and the city’s government has announced that it will shed any assets linked to fossil fuels.
“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 the climate change that are unfairly affecting poor and vulnerable communities,” said Assisi Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino in a public statement.