The Canadian Jesuits have joined Catholic organizations from around the world in announcing they will divest all their holdings in oil, gas and coal. CNS photo/Larry W. Smith, EPA

Canadian Jesuits to divest from oil, gas, coal holdings

  • October 4, 2016

TORONTO – The Canadian arm of the Jesuits is selling all its investments in oil, gas and coal.

As part of a global Catholic campaign to starve big oil and coal of investment funds and redirect that investment into renewable energy sources, Canada’s Jesuits joined with half a dozen other Catholic institutions from Europe, Asia, the United States and Latin America for the divestment announcement on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, Oct. 4.

“It was a difficult decision for us,” Jesuit Father David Shulist told The Catholic Register. “If it wasn’t, we would have made this decision a lot sooner.”

Though Canada’s Jesuits will immediately halt all future investments in oil, gas and coal, it could take years to gradually shift all their investments away from greenhouse gas-producing forms of energy. But it’s important to make a move now, Shulist said.

In a press release issued by the Global Catholic Climate Movement and, Canadian Jesuit provincial superior Fr. Peter Bisson said the fate of poor people in countries vulnerable to climate change demands action.

“Climate change is already affecting poor and marginalized communities globally, through drought, rising sea levels, famine and extreme weather. We are called to take a stand,” Bisson said.

The Canadian Jesuits are joined by the Brazilian Diocese of the Holy Spirit of Umuarama, SSM Health in the United States, the Presentation Society of Australia and Papua New Guinea, the Federation of Christian Organizations for the International Voluntary Service in Italy (FOCSIV), the St. Columban Missionaries based in Hong Kong and active in 14 countries, and the Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco — Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in Milan and Naples.

Globally, nearly 600 institutions with investments totalling more than $3.4 trillion have announced they will divest from carbon-producing energy companies.

At the start of a month of prayer for care of creation, Sept. 1, Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said fossil fuel divestment can “force businesses to consider their environmental footprint and patterns of production.”

“We must examine our consciences and repent,” said Turkson. “I realize that this is not the way we traditionally think about sin. These are sins, Pope Francis says, that we have not hitherto acknowledged and confessed. But we are now called upon to do so.”

Walking away from fossil fuels in Canada is going to be difficult, but it shouldn’t be seen as an attack on people who work in oil and gas, said Shulist, who sits on the Jesuits’ committee for social responsibility and investment and the order’s social justice commission.

“Any change is going to mean having to let go of something to be able to take on something new,” he said. “In a sense we don’t see this as instantly pulling the plug and everything gets emptied. The question is, how do we move through a process that tries to minimize the impact of unemployment and that provides new structures coming into place whereby there are new opportunities for training and to diversify those economies.”

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It's a shame that religious organizations have bought into the Climate Change hoax! Shame on you! I will simply not support any religious organization or group that has become embroiled in this UN hoax.

Wilfred Camilleri
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