Code of Canon law may soon include “one of the most serious duties: to protect and promote the natural environment in which the faithful lives”

July 17, 2018

Advancing to Pope Francis, asking the Pope, on behalf of the Dicastery for legislative texts, to insert into the canons on gravest Christian duties that every faithful Christian, mindful that the creation is the common home, has the serious duty not only not to damage, but also to improve, both with normal behavior, and with specific initiatives, the natural environment in which each person is called to live”  This was noted by Cardinal Coccopalmerio during the “Dialogue on Catholic investments for the energy transition” promoted by the World Catholic Climate Movement

Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio
Published 17/07/2018 ANDREA TORNIELLI, VATICAN CITY

A new canon to be inserted in the Code of Canon Law, dedicated to the “grave duty” for the Christian faithful not only “not to harm” but also to “improve” the natural environment. It is the proposal that Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president emeritus of the Dicastery for legislative texts, intends to advance to Pope Francis, as he himself announced during the meeting entitled “Dialogue on Catholic investments for the energy transition”, held in Rome last 12 July 2018. The meeting was a moment of confrontation – behind closed doors – between representatives of Vatican institutions, foundations and Catholic organizations involved in the implementation of responsible investments for a correct energy transition.

So Cardinal Coccopalmerio summarizes his proposal to Vatican Insider : “The Code of Canon Law, at the beginning of the second book, to the canons 208-221 under the title” Obligations and rights of all the faithful “presents a list of these obligations and rights, and for this reason draws an authoritative identikit of the faithful and his life as a Christian. Unfortunately, nothing is said of one of the most serious duties: to protect and promote the natural environment in which the faithful lives”.

“My proposal – continues the Ambrosian cardinal –  would be to ask the Pope, on behalf of the Dicastery for legislative texts, to insert into the canons I just mentioned a new canon that sounds more or less like this:” Every Christian faithful, mindful that the creation is the common home, has the serious duty not only not to damage, but also to improve, both with normal behavior, and with specific initiatives, the natural environment in which each person is called to live”.

Inspired by the encyclical  Laudato si ‘ and by the clear  words that Pope Francis recently addressed to the leaders of the main companies in the oil, natural gas and other energy-related businesses , the participants agreed on the importance of the Catholic program of Disinvestment – Investment promoted by  the World Catholic Climate Movement, which invites Catholic institutions to publicly take a commitment to disinvestment from fossil fuels, thus assuming a prophetic role in relation to the dominance of these fuels in the global economy.

Catholic institutions are assuming a leadership role in the global movement on disinvestment from fossil fuels. Among the many, Catholic banks with a budget of 7.5 billion euros and Caritas Internationalis disinvested on 22 April 2018 . The president of Caritas Internationalis, Luis Antonio Tagle, said: “The poor suffer a lot because of the climate crisis and fossil fuels are the main drivers of this injustice. That’s why Caritas Internationalis has decided not to invest more in fossil fuels. We encourage our organizations, other groups and institutions of the Church to do the same “. The Episcopal Conference of Belgium was the last October 4 to celebrate the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi.

In addition to Coccopalmerio, Leonardo Becchetti, Professor of Economics at the University of Rome Tor Vergata and member of the Promoting Committee of the Quadragesimo Anno Foundation, Tomás Insua, Executive Director of the World Catholic Movement for Climate took part, among others  ; John O’Shaughnessy, Founder of “The Catholic Impact Investing Collaborative” , treasurer and board member of the World Catholic Climate Movement; Vladi Lumina, member of the Promoting Committee of the Quadragesimo Anno Foundation and member of the Commission for the health sector activities of the public juridical persons of the Church. 

The participants strongly underlined the importance of investments consistent with the Social Doctrine of the Church,  on which the proposal is based on creating a true rating that conforms to the same social doctrine, on which the Quadragesimo Anno Foundation is working . There has been talk of the importance of daily consumption choices that generate change (the “vote with the portfolio”) and the need to provide ad hoc training for financial advisors, key figures for managing investments. Among the upcoming events is the announcement of disinvestment from fossil fuels of September 13, 2018 ( form to participate ), on the occasion of the  Global Climate Action Summit , the international Prophetic Economy event, scheduled for 2 – 4 November 2018 ( https://www.propheticeconomy.org/italiano ).