Canadian sisters abandon their fossil fuel stocks

Another $500 million in Catholic investment funds around the world have been pulled from oil, gas and coal, including the portfolios of two of Canada’s largest religious orders.

The Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada and the Missionaries of Our Lady have completed the years-long process to withdraw their money from energy sources.

“The decision was not difficult,” OLM Sr. Christine Gebel said in an email to The Catholic Register. “We were very aware of global warming, now a climate crisis, and we knew that the people and areas that would suffer first were those where we had lived and worked for many years. The decision was personal and moral.

The Canadian orders are part of a movement that has seen five dioceses in Ireland, the Catholic Theological Society of America, the Jesuits in the eastern United States, Marquette University, Loyola University and 11 different religious orders, all firmly and eventually end their carbon investments. energy based.

For the Sisters of St. Joseph, making a contribution to the global divestment movement “helps us know that we are part of a much larger movement that is happening around the world,” said congregation leader Sr. Margo Richie.

A total of 35 faith-based institutions from seven countries announced their completed divestment plans. More than 35% of all divestment commitments worldwide have been made by religious institutions and churches. It is the largest arm of a global divestment movement that now represents more than $40 trillion in combined assets, up from just $50 billion in 2014.

For the Canadian sisters, moving out of the old economy and embracing a new green economy has been a slow process. Notre Dame missionaries first broached the idea in 2011, sent a letter to their investment managers asking them to explore divestment options in 2015, and only finally completed the process this year. . The Sisters of St. Joseph started over four years ago and ran into headwinds to get their investment managers involved.

“We had long-standing relationships with these managers – very good relationships with them,” Richie said. “We kept asking and asking, but they couldn’t find what we were looking for.”

Beyond just getting off fossil fuels, the Sisters of St. Joseph wanted to dedicate 8% of their portfolio to alternative, green energy and other climate-friendly initiatives.

“That was the ethical choice we wanted to make — to be a small but real part of a movement toward alternative forms of energy,” Richie said.

Two years into the process, the sisters sadly parted ways with their former investment managers and chose three new companies.

“The companies we’ve chosen aren’t flyovers,” Richie said. “He’s not someone who has a good idea but doesn’t know how to make the business part of it. They’re very alert, very astute, and they understand what we’re trying to accomplish.

It hasn’t been a good year for anyone’s investments, but Richie observes that the sisters’ portfolio hasn’t shrunk as much as most.

“It counts for something right now,” she said.

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