Vatican Praises UK Jesuits’ Divestment of Fossil Fuel Stocks

NORCO, LA - AUGUST 21: A gas flare from the Shell Chemical LP petroleum refinery illuminates the sky on August 21, 2019 in Norco, Louisiana. Located about 10 miles up the Mississippi River from New Orleans, the plant agreed to install $10 million in pollution monitoring and control equipment in …
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ROME — The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano has held up British Jesuits as an example of an effective commitment to combating climate change, which it calls “the most urgent challenge” we face.

As Breitbart News reported, in late February the UK Jesuit order announced they were dumping all fossil fuel stocks from their half-billion-dollar investment portfolio because of the fuel companies’ complicity in the “climate crisis.”

“Our trustees took the decision to completely divest from oil, gas and coal-producing companies because they felt these companies were not making enough progress towards better solutions,” declared Jesuit Brother Stephen Power, the order’s British Province Treasurer.

The Jesuits in Great Britain — the country’s largest male religious institution — have decided to give up investing in companies whose main source of income comes from the extraction of fossil fuels, the Vatican newspaper noted Wednesday, as a means of responding to “the clear moral imperative to act to safeguard our planet for future generations.”

The paper cited Father Damian Howard, the order’s provincial superior, insisting that “climate change is the most pressing challenge the world faces as climate disasters wreak more and more destruction, hitting poorer countries the hardest — despite them having done the least to cause them.”

Since several scientific studies show that “the entire planet is facing a serious climate emergency,” Father Howard calls on “all institutions to react to this ecological crisis and take courageous actions to reduce energy consumption and switch to renewable sources,” the article adds.

Large investors, in particular, are called to do “everything possible to help avoid the serious consequences that could result.”

The Jesuits have been part of a group of institutional shareholders in Barclays who have pressured the bank to phase out all its financing of fossil fuel companies.

A resolution drawn up by the group, which accounts for some £130 billion in investments at the bank, would oblige Barclays to draft a plan to stop providing financial services to companies in the energy sector “that are not aligned with the goals of the Paris climate agreement.”

“The world must respond to the enormous challenges and opportunities of climate change with far greater urgency,” said Paul Chitnis, Director of Jesuit Missions.

In addition to Great Britain, the Jesuits in Canada, Italy, and Australia, along with the Jesuit European Social Centre in Brussels and the Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network Africa (JENA) in Kenya have also decided to divest themselves of investments in coal, the article notes.

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