Catholic Divestment moves forward: San Diego Example Pushes UK Churches to Rethink Fossil Fuels


This month, the Diocese of San Diego made history by becoming the first Roman Catholic diocese in the US to publicly commit to divest from fossil fuels – a bold move which reflects a growing global sentiment that it’s time to sever ties with an industry that not only harms our environment but also goes against the principles of justice and sustainability. The UK has been at the forefront of Catholic divestment, with the Scottish Catholic Bishops’ Conference having divested as well as 12 Roman Catholic Dioceses in England and Wales, including the Diocese of Salford, whose bishop, Rt Revd John Arnold, is the lead bishop on the environment for the Catholic Church in England and Wales. However, nine Roman Catholic dioceses in England and Wales are still directly investing in fossil fuels, something we believe must change.

The Church of England’s national divestment last year highlighted the shortcomings of the “engagement” strategy often favored by hesitant dioceses. They realised simply talking to fossil fuel companies wasn’t enough to turn the tide in the short window we have left.

Divestment is not just a financial decision; it is a moral stance, a commitment to principles of justice, and an acknowledgment of our responsibility to care for our common home.
Pope Francis’ pronouncements on the “ecological sins” have resonated deeply with many Catholics. He has declared that “[we] must listen to science and institute a rapid and equitable transition to end the era of fossil fuel.”

In the UK, divestment by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference at a national level carries particular importance in an election year. It serves as a message to those aspiring to electoral victory that responsibility for the climate is not just a political issue but a fundamental ethical imperative. It calls on leaders and policymakers to prioritise the well-being of our planet and future generations above short-term gains.

Whether you’re a church leader, a concerned parishioner, or a campaigner, you have a role to play. Download our updated resource guide and equip yourself with the knowledge and tools needed to advocate for divestment within your community.

Together, we can:

  • Educate parishioners: Share resources and information about the ethical and practical reasons for divestment.
  • Engage with diocesan leadership: Express your support for divestment and encourage concrete action.
  • Join community campaigns: Build coalitions and amplify the voices calling for change.
  • On Thursday, 22 Feb 2024, 17:30 – 18:30, join our listening training campaign around the Catholic Church’s fossil fuel investments; attend a 1-hour online training and get involved!
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