As Pope Francis starts his visit to the Philippines this week, environmentalists and Filipino organizations are upping their calls for the Pope to divest the Vatican from fossil fuels. You can join their call to action by clicking here.
“We look to Pope Francis to break the political impasse preventing real action on climate change. Twenty years of climate negotiations have left the world at the mercy of political and economic circles looking to protect their vested interests at the expense of mankind and the planet,” said Yeb Saño, Philippine Climate Change Commissioner. “The climate change crisis is a reflection of a profound global moral crisis, and as such Church organizations play an important role in untangling us from this mess. One way this can be done is for the Church to examine not just the purity of its vestments but where it puts its investments.”
In the Philippines, hundreds gathered in Manila on Wednesday evening for a vigil calling on the Vatican to divest just hours before the arrival of the Pontiff. On Thursday, a Climate Justice Caravan will leave the city of Dolores and head towards Tacloban, where the Pope will be visiting. In Tacloban, during an organized luncheon with victims from Typhoon Haiyan, the Pope will be hand delivered a letter including a call for the Vatican to divest from fossil fuels.
“As Pope Francis prepares to visit the impacted communities from Super Typhoon Haiyan, we need him to stand in defence of humankind and the environment, and take the lead in actions that will help prevent further climate catastrophes,” said Lidy Nacpil, a 350.org board member and coordinator of Jubilee South–Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development (JS-APMDD). “One such urgent action is full divestment from the fossil fuel industry. We urge the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church to lead the way.”
The events in the Philippines are being organized by local faith groups, theological schools, and development organizations. Around the world, tens of thousands of people have signed onto a petition calling on the Vatican to divest circulated by the climate campaign 350.org. On February 13 and 14, organizations are coming together for a Global Divestment Day of Action, when activists around the world will continue to pressure the Vatican and other institutions to commit to divestment.
Fossil fuel divestment has increasingly gained traction among faith communities. The World Council of Churches recently decided to phase out its holdings in fossil fuels and encouraged its members to do the same. Other religious groups supporting divestment include, the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, the Quakers in the United Kingdom, the United Church of Christ and Unitarian Universalists in the USA, and many more regional and local churches.
Since taking office, Pope Francis has issued several statements in recognition of scientific findings confirming human responsibility for climatic changes and has called on world leaders to take the necessary actions to address the current climate crisis. Later this year, the Pope is expected to present an encyclical on ecology and man’s relationship with nature to serve as a letter of guidance sent to 5,000 Catholic bishops and 400,000 priests with the goal of reaching the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide.