Press release: Catholic institutions divest from fossil fuels

November 15, 2020

Rome, embargoed until 16 November 2020 00.01 CET
Media contact: Reba Elliott, [email protected]

Catholic institutions divest from fossil fuels

Commitments made following Vatican guidance on ethical investments

Today, 47 faith institutions announce their divestment from fossil fuels, making the largest-ever joint announcement of divestment among religious leaders. These include 42 Catholic institutions and additional Protestant and Jewish institutions.

Among Catholics, the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union Caritas Asia, and the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests are included. The full list of participating institutions is here.

Today’s commitment to fossil fuel divestment is the first that has been made after the Vatican’s first-ever operational guidance on the environment was issued. These guidelines, which were jointly issued by all dicasteries of the Vatican, encouraged Catholics to avoid investing in companies that “harm human or social ecology (for example, through abortion or the arms trade), or environmental ecology (for example, through the use of fossil fuels).”

Catholics’ commitment to clean energy is part of the tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.

Fifty years ago this month, Pope Paul VI said that “everything is bound up together” in the “living design of the Creator,” and warned that we risked “provoking a veritable ecological catastrophe.”In his 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis reminded us that “everything is connected,” in “one complex crisis which is both social and environmental,” and warned that “we still lack the culture needed to confront this crisis.” 

To date, a total of nearly 400 faith institutions have divested from fossil fuels. The full list of Catholic institutions that have divested to date is here. In addition, Pope Francis has convened an “Economy of Francesco” conference, slated to begin 19 November, that explores innovative ways Catholics are developing a sustainable economy, with leadership from young people front and center. 

Fr. Manuel Enrique Barrios Prieto, COMECE Secretary-General, said “COMECE joins the Catholic movement to divest from fossil fuels. We encourage others also to join us in taking concrete steps to solve the climate crisis. Commitments to the Paris climate agreement is important, and the European Green Deal is a way of doing so. Solving the climate crisis protects the human family from the dangers of a warming world, and decisive action is needed now more than ever.”  

Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, said “The economic power of faiths, turned to responsible investments and the green economy, can be a major driver of positive change, and an inspiration to others, as we rebuild better.”

Note to editors:

  • An infographic map of committed institutions is here, here, and here.
  • A video is here.


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