By Sr. Laura Goedken
The Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Davenport (CFDD) and Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS) together do socially responsible investing of financial assets. One way to have a Catholic voice in the marketplace is with active ownership of select stocks. Active ownership involves exercising one’s rights as a shareholder to change the company’s behavior. This can be done through dialogue with the company’s management, voting proxies, and the filing of shareholder resolutions.
The major themes of Catholic social teaching are: protection of human life and dignity of the human person; call to family, community and participation; rights and responsibilities; option for the poor and vulnerable; the dignity of work and the rights of workers; solidarity with one another; and care for God’s creation.
Climate change has been heavily in the media in recent years. To quote Pope Benedict XVI, “The environment is God’s gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole.” Caritas in Veritate, No. 48
On June 5, 2013 Pope Francis stated, “Cultivating and caring for creation is God’s indication given to each one of us not only at the beginning of history; it is part of His project; it means nurturing the world with responsibility and transforming it into a garden, a habitable place for everyone.”
Climate change is one example where active ownership can and does make a difference. The following are examples of the work CBIS has achieved with companies. Exxon Mobil will no longer challenge the science of climate change and will curtail funding of groups skeptical of climate change. Chevron has agreed to adopt an emissions reduction goal and to integrate the cost of carbon in new investments. Allstate reduced paper use by 41 percent, equivalent to approximately 185,000 trees, and saved the company $750,000 a year. Ford has pledged to reduce carbon dioxide emissions at its facilities by 30 percent and energy consumption by 25 percent on a per-vehicle basis. Data is taken from www.CBISonline.com.
Climate change requires a range of strategies including public policy, the development of new technologies, and changing corporate and consumer behaviors. We, as Catholics and as citizens, have an obligation to protect creation and preserve it for future generations.
(Sr. Goedken is director of development for the Diocese of Davenport.)
This is the last in the series of three articles.