The Shocking Revelation: Unveiling Banking’s Harmful Impact on Creation
“I did not know my bank was harming Creation!” John told me. Last May, I had the chance to meet a group of Catholics taking part in a climate march in London. Among other things, we discussed the responsibilities of banks in the climate crisis. A woman present there told me “I used to be a faithful customer, but I’ve recently read they were funding fossil fuel projects and was shocked.”
Since 2016, major banks worldwide have invested a staggering $5.5 trillion in the fossil fuel industry. This contradicts the scientific consensus on climate change, which states that to ensure a habitable planet for humans, we must refrain from developing new fossil fuel projects and instead invest in renewable energy and climate solutions.
Moral Principles in Action: Benedict XVI and Pope Francis’ Perspectives on Consumer Role
Inspired by Laudato Si’, many Catholics embarked on an eco-conversion journey. We are invited to listen to the Cry of the Earth and of the Poor before making decisions. Our values invokes Benedict XVI’s statement in Caritas in Veritate:
“Consumers should be continually educated regarding their daily role, which can be exercised with respect for moral principles” (CV. 66).
Pope Francis has his own way of summarizing this: “Purchasing is always a moral – and not simply economic – act” (LS #206). Discussing the matter with my Laudato Si’ friends, some were unsure about influencing their bank’s policies as an individual customer. A woman present there was asking : “I’m just an individual customer of that bank. It’s hard to understand how to influence their policies.”
Taking Action as a Catholic: Preventing Negative Impact on Creation and Human Dignity
I told them the story of Sylvette who, after prayerful reflection, wrote a letter to her bank’s management and gave it to her local branch manager. Someone in the group told another story: “I’ve decided with my wife to switch to a more virtuous bank. It takes a little bit of time, but it’s also a way for us to ground our lives in the Gospel.”
In Mozambique, a significant amount of fossil fuel was found on the coast. Global companies are now extracting and exporting it as liquified natural gas. Despite the pollution and human rights violations, major banks like BNP Paribas, HSBC, and JPMorgan Chase have funded these projects.
You too, as a Catholic, can learn more about how banks and finance can impact Creation and human dignity negatively, and take a simple yet decisive action to try to prevent that. Learn more at: Laudato Si’ Movement Bank Boycott