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Catholic climate group urges faith values in finances

Four new guides recommend sustainable banking, investing, divesting, and insurance for faith-based groups
The Laudato Si’ Movement in partnership with FaithInvest has launched a series of resources that seek to integrate the principles of ecology and economics to create a more sustainable and equitable future

The Laudato Si’ Movement in partnership with FaithInvest has launched a series of resources that seek to integrate the principles of ecology and economics to create a more sustainable and equitable future. (Photo: Laudato Si’ Movement)

Published: March 22, 2023 07:18 AM GMT
Updated: March 22, 2023 07:31 AM GMT

Faith-based groups including Catholic dioceses, universities, schools, and religious congregations should align their financial activities with their faith values for sustainable development, says a global Catholic climate group.

The Laudato Si’ Movement (LSM), a global network of Catholics working for climate and ecological justice released four guides with the aim to ensure sustainable banking, investing, divesting, and insurance, the group said in a press release on March 22.

These guides have been prepared in collaboration with UK-based FaithInvest, a nonprofit organization that empowers faith-based organizations to invest in line with their values

The LSM is named after Pope Francis’s celebrated environmental encyclical Laudato Si published in 2015.

The movement’s executive director Tomás Insua said the guides support the “ecological conversion” that the pope has called for.

“Laudato Si’ Movement has created these financial guides to support the ecological conversion that Pope Francis calls us to in Laudato Si’. Many have wondered how to take action on ecological economics. We hope that these guides, created with input from partners around the world, will help point the way forward,” he said.

"What they do with their assets and investments matters"

The financial guides take a three-part “See-Discern-Act” approach, helping equip dioceses, universities, schools, and religious to analyze and take action, the LSM said. 

FaithInvest Chief Executive Martin Palmer said: “Research shows major faith groups run half of the world’s schools, a quarter of its colleges and universities, and a third of its hospitals.”

“Collectively, they own a tenth of the world’s forests and manage billions of dollars of investments. So, what they do with their assets and investments matters,” he pointed out.

The guide seeks to educate concerned people about sustainable outcomes.

Firstly, a better understanding of why sustainable finance is vital to “correcting models of growth which have proved incapable of ensuring respect for the environment.” (Laudato Si’, 6)

Secondly, a review of current financial practices to help determine if they are supporting unethical and unsustainable businesses.

"Guides do not constitute or intend to constitute investment advice"

Thus, these guides seek to advice on how to move forward to a more sustainable model of banking, investing, divesting, and insurance.

They recommend establishing a committee of leaders who contribute to financial and social decisions; determining the right sustainable institution that meets their goals, with a suggested checklist to create profiles for easy comparison; making a final decision based on their process of approval; and monitoring for the long term.

However, these guides are for educational purposes only, the LSM said.

“The guides do not constitute or intend to constitute investment advice or any investment service and are not a substitute for professional investment advice,” it added.

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