In recent weeks, with Lent, many Laudato Si’ Animators around the world have been on the move to encourage the Church to think about how our finances should work toward the exit from fossil fuels, as the Pope invites us to do. Here’s an overview of what happened.
“Have we put Laudato Si’ into action through the finances of the diocese?” Cecile is a Laudato Si’ animator in France. During Lent, she responded to the invitation of the Laudato Si’ Movement, invited by letter the leaders of her diocese to reflect on the possible link between the diocese’s financial investments and the fossil fuel industry.
Indeed, most Catholic institutions hold financial investments. Any Catholic investor must be careful not to invest in immoral activities, including the fossil fuel industries, since, as Laudato Si’ reminds us, we must “replace fossil fuel technologies without delay” (LS165). To the extent that the fossil fuel industry refuses to take climate change seriously and stop its development plans, every Catholic investor should stop supporting them financially. This is called “divestment” from the fossil fuel industry, a financially sound, morally right and prophetic choice!
How can we ensure that this invitation finds an attentive ear in every institution? All Catholics can echo this call in their local communities, encouraging their leaders to make the right decisions and helping them to implement them.
Dozens of letters
Many members of the Laudato Si’ Movement have used Lent to encourage their bishops to take up this issue. In the United States and France, after participating in a training workshop on the subject, several leaders wrote a letter to their bishop.
In the Netherlands, a group of faithful committed to the care of creation met in-person to write an invitation to the various bishops in their region. In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, members of the movement have also written to the bishops, and the discussion can finally take place with the help of motivated and trained leaders.
Engaging activities in Britain
Some letters have manifested beyond pen and paper and into the cinematography of The Letter. In England, for example, Anne organized a screening of The Letter in her parish. A discussion ensued on the impact of finances: both of the ordinary faithful and of the Church. The Vicar General was present and committed to discuss the issue further.
Various Laudato Si’ Animators also participated in prayer vigils organized near the Cathedrals of some dioceses to challenge their communities on this subject. Throughout Lent, our partner Operation Noah is running an online awareness campaign on the subject, which is helping to move the issue forward within the British Catholic world.
Moving towards a peace economy
In Italy, the Laudato Si’ Movement, along with a range of partners such as the Jesuit province, Catholic Action and the Scout movement, have made Lent a time to reflect on our dependence on fossil fuels. By calling on everyone to do a “gas fast”, the initiative puts the issue of fossil fuels back on the agenda for Catholic investors.
On the other side of the world, the movement’s chapter in South Korea mobilized on Friday, March 3, to call for a change in the way the world invests in new polluting and climate-changing infrastructure. Leading a kind of Way of the Cross, the group of about 20 people stopped in front of different banks and institutions involved in financing fossil infrastructures. For Maeng Joo-hyeong, an Augustinian priest, “even if individuals and dioceses diligently practice daily carbon emission reductions, if the fossil fuel industry is on the rise, the effect will inevitably be at a standstill.” If there is a coal phase-out law at the policy level as a political change, there is a withdrawal of fossil fuel investment at the economic level.” Throughout the procession, the group held up signs and banners with messages such as “no more fossil fuels”, “ecological conversion now” as well as quotes from the encyclical.
In Australia, a multi-faith prayer service was held at St Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral, Parramatta, on Thursday, March 9, organized by the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC). The event was attended by leaders from several faiths, including Bishop Vincent Long.
The event highlighted the fact that people of faith and faith-based organizations should repent for unwittingly allowing their savings to fund coal, oil and gas mining. During his homily, bishop Vincent said: “The time has come for us to act decisively to reduce our carbon footprint, invest in renewable energy, divest from fossil fuels, consume less and waste less…”
Join the next global announcement!
Many Catholic institutions have already decided to stop supporting the fossil fuel industry with their financial investments. On April 20, the Laudato Si’ Movement and its partners will make public the new commitments to divest from fossil fuels.
Spread the word: it is possible to join the list until a few days before this global announcement!