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A wonderful panel on faith & finance at the One Human Family conference

FaithInvest took part in the Focolare Movement's wonderful One Human Family international interreligious conference in Italy, where we led a panel discussion on Faith, Values and Investments.

Sr Maamalifer Poreku and Omar Shaikh
Sr Maamalifer Poreku and Omar Shaikh

FaithInvest's Susie Weldon moderated the discussion, which was held in front of a very engaged and truly multi-faith and multinational audience of 480 people from 40 countries, speaking 12 languages. They included rabbis, imams, Catholic priests, Theravada and Mahayana Buddhist monks, as well as Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, and Baha’i lay people, and believers of traditional African religions, of all generations.

The speakers included Sr Maamalifer Poreku, a Missionary Sister of Our Lady of Africa and Executive Co-Secretary of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of UISG - International Union of Superiors General, and Omar Shaikh, CEO of the Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI).

The panel discussion explored how, by religions aligning their investments, faith communities could harness their potential as agents of systemic change, leading to a just and sustainable future for all.

Omar Shaikh said the role of faiths was critical because faith groups understood the purpose of wealth. 'That gives faiths a unique position within the context of financial markets that simply manage funds under principles of risk and return,' he said. Because of this, faith groups can help to 'reshape capitalism and drive positive change where finance works for people and planet alongside profit'.

But he cautioned against being blinded by finance industry jargon and fund managers who say this is not possible – 'This is YOUR money' – and called on faith groups to work more closely together to help achieve this goal.

Scenes from the conference

Sr Maamalifer issued a challenge to all faith groups to 'imagine the possibility of a new economic system of finance and investment springing from the principles of our faith values'.

She spoke passionately about the need to protect the poor and to hear the voices of marginalised communities impacted by activities funded by our investments, including green investments, such as those impacted by lithium mining.

Key principles in Catholic Social Teaching, such as stewardship, solidarity and the preferential option for the poor, provided an invaluable guide for how faith institutions should invest, she said: 'This will help them listen to the voices and experiences of frontline communities and take them into account in their investment deliberations and decisions.'

  • The One Human Family conference took place over five days from May 31 to June 4, and included an audience with Pope Francis for 200 participants.

  • The Focolare Movement is a global movement of spiritual and social renewal, founded in Trent, Italy, in 1943, during the Second World War. Its aim is to build a more united world in which people value and respect diversity, and includes Christians of different Churches and ecclesial communities, members of the major world religions and people of no particular religious belief.


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