Thursday 16 June 2016
Four Australian Catholic organisations have announced they are completely divesting from coal, oil and gas in what they say is the first joint Catholic divestment anywhere in the world.
The move comes as prominent Jewish rabbis, Muslim clerics, Anglican bishops and other religious leaders call on the Australian government to protect the Great Barrier Reef, stop approving coalmines and remove subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, in an open letter published by the Guardian.
The divestment announcement – the first by any Catholic organisation in Australia – and letter were coordinated by the multi-faith group the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, in partnership with the environmental group 350.org.
It comes a year after Pope Francis, in his second encyclical, Laudato Si’, called on all people – not just Catholics – to take “swift and unified global action” to protect the environment and stop global warming. It is part of Laudato Si’ week, in which Catholic organisations around the world discuss their role in tackling climate change.
At the time the papal intervention was labelled “explosive” and “the most astonishing and perhaps the most ambitious papal document of the past 100 years”.
The four Catholic orders publicly divesting are: Marist Sisters Australia; Presentation Congregation Queensland; Presentation Sisters Wagga Wagga; and the Passionists – Holy Spirit Province Australia, NZ, PNG and Vietnam.
Thea Ormerod, the president of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, told the Guardian it was a significant step for Catholic organisations to publicly announce they were divesting from fossil fuels…