There are few other entities in the world that have such a big and far-reaching influence on people as religious institutions. Well aware of this, the Vatican has recently used its wide-ranging position of power to urge Catholics to be more environmentally conscious.
Last week, the Church has advised all Catholics in the world to divest from the armaments and fossil-fuel industries and to closely monitor companies in sectors such as mining to check if they are damaging the environment.
The calls were contained in a 225-page manual for church leaders and workers to mark the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ landmark encyclical “Laudato Si” (Praised Be) on the need to protect nature, life, and defenseless people.
The manual suggests practical steps to achieve the goals of the encyclical, which strongly supported agreements to contain global warming and warned against the dangers of climate change.
A section of the document that touched on finance underlined that people “could favor positive changes… by excluding from their investment companies that do not satisfy certain parameters.” It listed these as respect for human rights, bans on child labor, and protection of the environment.
Another section called for the “stringent monitoring” of extraction industries in areas with fragile ecosystems to prevent air, soil, and water contamination.
This admirable endorsement of the divestment movement is the first one to come from the Vatican, and it follows in the heels of the largest-ever announcement of divestment by faith institutions, last month, where more than 40 religious groups around the world pledged to divest from fossil fuel companies.