Irish Bishops announce decision to divest from fossil fuels

By agency reporter
August 26, 2018

The Irish Bishops' Conference have decided to divest from fossil fuels. Bishop William Crean, Bishop of Cloyne, read the following statement at a multi-faith service at Christchurch Cathedral on 24 August 2018: 

"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 Si (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." 

A growing number of Catholic organisations have committed to divestment. They include Caritas Internationalis, a Vatican-affiliated humanitarian assistance organisation, Catholic banks with €7.5 billion on their balance sheets, and dozens of religious orders and lay movements. Ninety five Catholic organisations, including six Irish Religious Congregations, have made divestment commitments to date.

The Bishops' Conference announcement follows a number of significant decisions in Ireland around fossil fuel divestment. Trinity College Dublin, Maynooth University and The National University of Ireland, Galway, have made similar commitments. Last June Dáil Éireann passed a private members bill which, if passed through the Seanad, will see the country become the first to fully divest its sovereign wealth fund (Irish Strategic Investment Fund) from all fossil fuels, and preclude future such investment by law. In May the Church of Ireland General Synod made a decision to divest its resources from fossil fuels.

On 9 June 2018 Pope Francis met with senior oil executives in the Vatican. Pope Francis said in his address, "The Paris Agreement clearly urged keeping most fossil fuels underground … Civilisation requires energy, but energy must not destroy civilisation."

* Read Laudato Sí here

* Trócaire https://www.trocaire.org/

* Independent Catholic News https://www.indcatholicnews.com

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