Pope Francis urged to rid the Vatican of investments in fossil fuels

For Immediate Release

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Melanie Mattauch, Europe Communications Coordinator, melanie@350.org, +49 151 5812 0184

Pope Francis urged to rid the Vatican of investments in fossil fuels

GLOBAL - The global climate campaign 350.org and partners launched a new campaign today urging Pope Francis to divest the Vatican Bank from all investments in the fossil fuel industry and publicly support the growing movement to divest from fossil fuels.

The petition to the head of the Catholic church reads, “Your acknowledgement of the dire threat of climate change, the Vatican’s efforts to become the first carbon-neutral state, and your dedication to caring for Creation give us great hope. We urge you to use the power of your office to set an example for the world."

Pope Francis has been outspoken about the threat of climate change, calling environmental destruction a “sinful act”. He warned that, “If we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us,” and appealed to Christians to become “Custodians of Creation”. Pope Francis is also in the process of writing an encyclical, one of the highest forms of Catholic teaching, on humanity’s role in caring for the Earth. He has also initiated a radical overhaul of the Vatican bank to increase transparency, accountability and tackle corruption. The Vatican bank has holdings of $8 billion. As long as fossil fuels are not explicitly excluded, a part of these holdings are inevitably invested in fossil fuel companies.

Jamie Henn, 350.org’s Director of Strategy and Communication says, “Pope Francis understands the threat of climate change and our moral responsibility to act. We urge him to take appropriate steps to stop the Catholic church from fueling the climate crisis through its investments, and use the power of his office to call on Christians and non-Christians alike to align their investments with their values.”

The petition follows a letter to the Pope from religious groups in Australia and North America saying that it’s “immoral” to profit from fossil fuels and asking him to advocate for divestment from fossil fuel.

Fossil fuel divestment has gained traction among faith communities. Last month, the World Council of Churches, a fellowship of over 300 churches, which represent some 590 million people in 150 countries, decided to phase out its holdings in fossil fuels and encouraged its members to do the same. The Quakers in the UK, the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, the United Church of Christ in the USA and many more regional and local churches have also joined the divestment movement.

This June, the University of Dayton in Ohio divested from fossil fuels, becoming the first major Catholic institution in the United States to join the divestment movement. At the time, Michael Galligan-Stierle, president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, said, “We applaud the University of Dayton for taking this step as perhaps the first U.S. Catholic university to divest from fossil fuels. This is a complex issue, but Catholic higher education was founded to examine culture and find ways to advance the common good. Here is one way to lead as a good steward of God's creation.”

Nobel Peace-Prize winner and former South African Anglican Archbishop, Desmond Tutu already called for an “anti-apartheid style boycott of the fossil fuel industry”. Tutu’s call to action has been echoed by UN climate chief Christiana Figueres, who urged religious leaders to pull their investments out of fossil fuel companies, as well.

350.org and partners are encouraging institutions and individuals to make a commitment to divest from fossil fuels and invest in climate solutions for this September’s Climate Summit that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is hosting in New York City. Upwards of 100,000 people are expected to take part in a giant mobilisation, the People’s Climate March, on Sunday, September 21, just two days before the summit, with hundreds of coordinated actions taking place the same weekend around the world.

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350 is the red line for human beings, the most important number on the planet. The most recent science tells us that unless we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, we will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth. But solutions exist. All around the world, a movement is building to take on the climate crisis, to get humanity out of the danger zone and below 350. This movement is massive, it is diverse, and it is visionary. We are activists, scholars, and scientists. We are leaders in our businesses, our churches, our governments, and our schools. We are clean energy advocates, forward-thinking politicians, and fearless revolutionaries. And we are united around the world, driven to make our planet livable for all who come after us.

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