As shareholders and in collaboration with other faith-based groups, SSNDs call the world's most powerful companies to address their impacts on people and on our planet. In order to engage a company in discussions concerning their environmental and human rights policies and practices, we must be shareholders in that corporation. Therefore, we hold a small number of shares with some establishments whose operations are considered harmful to people and to our planet. In light of the policies and practices of the major corporations in which our retirement funds are invested, I have struggled to reflect, discuss, and deepen an understanding of what Love Gives Everything means to us, given the signs of the times at work in the world today.
When I read the encyclicals of Pope Francis, I become more conscious of the environmental, social, economic, and political interconnections of all we do in the fields of corporate social responsibility and justice, peace, and integrity of creation. I see those of us who work for responsible investing as sowers of change and as promoters of a process. We raise concerns for change through our dialogues with the heads of powerful corporations, while establishing relationships in a spirit of truth and unity. We’re frequently consulted by corporations when it is time to set new goals or guidelines for the next five or ten years.
In keeping with our Province focus on climate change:
- I have encouraged our investing in renewable energy and eliminating fossil fuels from our portfolios.
- I, along with other faith-based groups, have challenged large financial institutions, Citigroup and J. P. Morgan Chase, to discontinue financing activities involving Green House Gas emissions. Both banks agreed to changing their policies.
- We filed a resolution with General Electric requiring it to set and disclose goals in line with a zero Green House Gas release. It received a very high majority vote from shareholders.
- We called on two fossil fuel companies, ExxonMobil and Phillips 66, to disclose their lobbying activities with political groups and other organizations whose pursuits may or may not be in keeping with Green House Gas reduction to the 1.5 degrees.
In keeping with the message of Laudato Si’, the Vatican recently published its first environmental guidelines, which suggest that Catholic institutions should take care not to support companies that harm human, social, or environmental ecology. Catholic institutions are called to provide a ray of hope for the most vulnerable among us. It recommends that our finance be a form of service, an instrument to serve the people, and a means to care for our common home.