Irish Bishops announce the Catholic Church is to divest from fossil fuels

Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash

The Catholic Bishops' Conference has announced that the Catholic Church is to divest from fossil fuels. This is the second major church in Ireland to announce full divestment following the decision by the Church of Ireland to divest at its General Synod in 2018.

The decisions by the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Ireland put further pressure on the other mainline churches in Ireland to also divest from polluting fossil fuels.

The Bishops' Conference spokesperson said, “Today, on the eve of Pope Francis’ historic visit to Ireland, I wish to announce the decision of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference to divest from fossil fuels. The Bishops’ Conference has signed the global Catholic fossil free pledge and today begins the process of divesting its resources from all fossil fuels. In doing so, we are responding directly to Pope Francis’ call in his 2015 encyclical letter Laudato Sí (on care for our common home) by moving away from fossil fuels “without delay” (paragraph 165).

“Our decision was taken at the Summer 2018 General Meeting of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference Meeting in Maynooth. It relates to investments held by the Bishops’ Conference at a national level and involves divestment from the top 200 oil and gas companies by reserves within five years.

“As chairman of Trócaire, I am delighted to make today’s announcement. Trócaire is to the fore in terms of tackling the disruption that climate change is already causing to our living environment. Over the past decade we have seen more intense storms, devastating floods, prolonged droughts and higher temperatures. The impact in terms of human suffering to families is devastating. Climate change is already leading to forced migration, separation of families and increased pressure on resources. Girls and women are often in the front line of this added burden.

“Avoiding further climate change and protecting our common home requires a major change in direction, as Pope Francis outlines in Laudato Sí. In particular, it requires a major shift in our energy and investment policies away from highly polluting fossil fuels towards cleaner renewable energy.

“Our announcement, whilst modest in terms of financial resources, is more than just symbolic. It is about joining the growing social movement, led by young people across the world, calling for the realignment of our financial policies to safeguard their future. It makes good sense and it is the least that we can offer our future generations.

“Together with our brothers and sisters in the Church of Ireland, and with many Religious Congregations in Ireland that have already divested, we now call on all faith organisations at home and abroad to consider joining the global divestment movement.”

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