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Catholic groups are increasingly seeking to invest in line with values

Press release: 19 April 2024: As we celebrate Earth Day's 54th anniversary today, Catholic groups are showing increased 'devotion' to faith-consistent investing, according to FaithInvest, an international not-for-profit network serving religious groups and faith-based institutional investors. 


Driven partly by discussions prompted by Pope Francis's landmark 2015 encyclical Laudato Si', which has provided much inspiration and impetus for Catholics and non-Catholics alike to act on behalf of the environment, increasing numbers of Catholic organisations are taking a closer look at whether their investments truly reflect their mission and values.


FaithInvest's dedicated Living Laudato Si' website


As the leading global nonprofit supporting all faith groups to develop faith-consistent investing (FCI) policies and practices, FaithInvest is delighted to see the growth in Catholic organisations focusing on what is often considered a challenging and difficult issue to address – but which is vital to ensuring funding is directed towards a just and sustainable future.


FaithInvest CEO Dr Lorna Gold, who is also board chair of the Laudato Si' Movement, says: ‘Faith groups are significant investors on global markets, with trillions of dollars worth of investments, so what they do with their money and their investments matters.


'Momentum is building to address the dual challenges of ecological degradation and poverty, and it is imperative that we align our economic systems with principles of sustainability and justice.

She added: 'It's fantastic to see the increase in Catholic groups looking into these issues. Just imagine, what could happen if more organisations started to invest according to their values? What, then, if their congregations do the same? We could see a huge tipping point towards building a better future for us all.’


Several recent events illustrate this growth of interest among Catholic groups:

  • Rising numbers of people are attending webinars on ecological economics. For example, our recent webinar, Catholic Social Teaching and Ecological Economics, co-hosted by FaithInvest and the Vatican's Laudato Si' Action Platform earlier this month (11 April 2024), saw 1,066 registrations across 62 countries.

  • Catholic institutions are asking for focused 'deep dives' into this subject for their own organisations. For example, in September 2023, we facilitated a day-long deep dive into Embracing the heart of Laudato Si' for the Dominican Sisters and Associates of Racine, Wisconsin, which discussed how to respond to the ecological crisis, and how finances and investments can be used as a force for good. Afterwards, Sr Ann Pratt, Laudato Si' Facilitator for the Racine Dominicans, said: 'The teams from the Racine Dominicans and FaithInvest talked about the goals of the day. I asked them to set our hearts on fire, which they certainly did! It was such an inspirational day and we saw the spark of what is to come.'

  • Catholic institutions are increasingly interested in working with us to strengthen their investment policies and guidelines in accordance with their values – such as the Society of the Holy Child Jesus (SHCJ), which is the subject of our inspiring new case study.


Inspiring case study

The SHCJ is an international Roman Catholic religious congregation of women spanning four continents, which wanted to better align its investments with its values.

 

Founded in 1846, its guiding principle is the enhancement of human dignity, which inspires actions towards a more just, compassionate and harmonious world informed by Catholic Social Teaching. In 2023, members of the SHCJ's European Province asked FaithInvest to help guide them as they created an investment policy more in line with their values.


Key values that the SHCJ's European Province wanted to see reflected in its investments included:

  • Protection of human life and human rights

  • Justice, peace & the integrity of creation

  • Working in solidarity with marginalised people

  • Care for our common home


Over the course of several months, the project involved regular sessions of the core team, presentations to the trustees, and convenings among the various stakeholders.


'This ongoing dialogue was essential in working through the complex and challenging issues involved in expressing faith values in investments,' – Mathew Jensen, CFA, Director of Faith-Consistent Investing Programmes

Front door language

A critical area of focus was on what FaithInvest describes as the 'front door language'. This is language at the beginning of an investment policy statement that articulates the values of the faith organisation, and the investment activities to be used in expressing those values.


Mathew Jensen says: 'We strongly encourage well-documented ‘front door‘ language – how will key beliefs, teachings, and values manifest themselves in our investments? Strong, clear language around this is of vital importance, because it’s the anchor for everything else that follows.'


Afterwards, Sr Carmel Murtagh of the SHCJ's European Province said developing the new policy had given them greater confidence: 'We were much more manager-led before engaging with FaithInvest. Our work together has given us greater capacity and understanding for dealing with managers.'


Living Laudato Si'

FaithInvest has a dedicated space on its website for Catholic organisations seeking to deliver on their ecogical economics goals. The Living Laudato Si' resource hub has inspiring stories, resources and guides to help them as they consider how to use their financial assets and investments for the common good.



Notes for editor

FaithInvest is an international, not-for-profit network serving religious groups and faith-based investors. We were founded in 2019 to help faith groups to invest in line with their values. We support the rapidly growing movement of faiths and faith-based asset owners actively using their investments to create a better world – for people and planet. We do not provide investment advice or make investment decisions for faith groups. www.faithinvest.org

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