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Pontifical University releases paper on faith-consistent investing for Catholics

The Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, an advisory body of scholars, has published a major new paper on investing in line with Catholic values, calling upon Catholic institutions to avoid 'threats to climate change', weapons, violent video games and drugs that induce abortion, among other products.

The paper, called Mensuram Bonam (For Good Measure) and subtitled “Faith-Based Measures for Catholic Investors: A Starting Point and Call to Action', urges Catholics to direct their investments in accordance with Catholic principles, including social solidarity, human rights, environmental protection and economic justice. It calls for “proactive positive investing” in industries such as renewable energy and microfinance.

'Because all investments participate in the bounty of divine gifts, no investment can ever be considered morally neutral. Either God’s kingdom is being advanced by the assets being deployed, or it is being neglected and undermined' Mensuram Bonam, pg12

Cardinal Peter Turkson, who oversaw development of the paper, described it as a 'wake-up call' to the many dioceses and institutions that haven’t developed their own rules on which financial investments are inappropriate.

While its recommendations are advisory and investment decisions lie with the officials in charge of particular institutions, Cardinal Turkson said the aim of Mensuram Bonam (MB) was to:

  • Encourage organisations to review any existing guidelines and adjust them where necessary to integrate Catholic Social Teaching into their investment policies;

  • Provide a model and a stimulus for organisations that have not yet developed investment guidelines to establish clear investment policies which integrate Catholic Social Teaching.

The paper makes a distinction between Catholic Social Teaching (CST) and Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) and Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG), saying that CST goes goes much further in terms of moral responsibility because it is based on a 'vision of the human person, his/her integral development and vocation in relationship with God, with other persons and with creation'.

It adds: 'Accordingly, the Church needs to actively promote CST and its benefits in the management and stewardship of financial assets. Similarly, the Church also calls on all regulatory Church entities to adopt in full the principles presented in Mensuram Bonam and those further elaborated by appropriate Bishops’ Conferences.'

MB specifically addresses Catholics overseeing the Church’s assets and her investments and institutions, those responsible for Catholic organisations, institutions, and orders, as well as individual Catholics investors, Catholic educators, and students in business, finance and investment, among others.

'Given what is at stake for humanity and future generations, MB makes a fervent ‘call to action’ for faith-based, faith-consistent, faith-inspired investing based on the light of the Gospel, and the guidance from Church teaching' Mensuram Bonam, pg5

But it also adds that it recognises that the faith-guidance for investors has rational resonance across many religious tradition, listing shared virtues such as honesty, trust, truth, justice, mercy, sincerity, responsibility and accountability, and calls for greater collaboration, quoting Pope Francis in Laudato Si': 'Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home.'

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