US fossil fuel divestment campaigners are hopeful that Pope Francis’ impending visit to the US will add momentum to the country’s fossil fuel divestment campaign.
According to non-profit divestment campaign group 350.org, Pope Francis’ visit to the US this week could “add momentum to the rapidly growing effort, especially at faith institutions and Catholic universities” to divest from fossil fuel investments.
“Pope Francis’ positions on climate change are perfectly aligned with the logic of divestment, that if it’s wrong to wreck the planet, it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage,” said May Boeve, Executive Director of 350.org. “Since the release of the encyclical, we’ve seen a marked increase in the number of faith communities who are joining the effort. The Pope’s visit is going to electrify the movement, not just for Catholics, but for all of us who see climate action as a moral imperative.”
Pope Francis’ released his climate encyclical in May, in a move that was widely praised — but also similarly condemned by those who thought the Pope was venturing into areas not within his purview. However, for those of us who do consider ourselves religious — be it Catholic, Christian, or anything else — there is much that holds true with a religious leader of the Popes’ magnitude speaking into such an issue. “The destruction of the human environment is extremely serious, not only because God has entrusted the world to us men and women, but because human life is itself a gift which must be defended from various forms of debasement,” the Pope wrote. “Every effort to protect and improve our world entails profound changes in ‘lifestyles, models of production and consumption, and the established structures of power which today govern societies’,” he added, referencing an Encyclical Letter written by John Paul II in 1991.
The Pope’s message has most certainly not fallen on deaf ears, as many religious institutions the world over — before and following the Pope’s climate encyclical — have jumped on the divestment bandwagon, believing in the need for those of a religious bent to be better stewards of our planet.
“Divestment is spreading fast in faith communities worldwide and the moral verdict is in – profiting from the fossil fuel industry is wrong,” said the Rev. Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of GreenFaith. “We hope and pray that the Vatican will join this global movement and highlight the need for clean energy – especially for the world’s poor.”
350.org included in its press release a list of faith divestment commitments to date, included below:
Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn, Australia
Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, Australia
Anglican Diocese of Perth, Australia
Anglican National Super, Australia
Brighthelm Church, Brighton, UK
Church of Sweden
Colorado Ratnashri Sangha, USA
Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, USA
Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, MA, USA
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Oregon, OR, USA
First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church in Cambridge, MA, USA
First Presbyterian of Palo Alto, CA, USA
First Religious Society of Newburyport, MA, USA
First Unitarian Church of Pittsfield, ME, USA
First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City, UT, USA
First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa, ON, Canada
First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee, WI, USA
Franciscan Sisters of Mary, MO, USA
Friends Fiduciary Corporation, USA
Jamaica Plain Unitarian Universalist, NY, USA
Maine Council of Churches, ME, USA
Melbourne Unitarian Church, Australia
Portsmouth South Church Unitarian Universalist, NH, USA
Presentation Sisters, Queensland, Australia
Quakers in Britain, UK
Quakers Religious Society of Friends, Australia
Quaker Community Friends, OH, USA
Society for Community Work, CA, USA
The United Methodist Church, USA
Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church, VA, USA
Trinity St. Paul’s United Church, Toronto, ON, Canada
Union Theological Seminary, NY, USA
Unitarian Society of Northampton & Florence, MA, USA
Unitarian Universalist Area Church at First Parish in Sherborn, MA, USA
Unitarian Universalist Association, USA
Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst, MA, USA
United Reformed Church Synod of Scotland, UK
Uniting Church in Australia
Uniting Church of ACT & NSW, Australia
United Church of Christ, MA, USA
United Church of Christ, MN, USA
Universalist Congregation of South County, RI, USA
UU Fellowship of Corvallis, OR, USA
World Council of Churches
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