Vatican considers divesting from fossil fuels

Vatican considers divesting from fossil fuels
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The Vatican may end its investments in fossil fuels but has not committed to doing so, a top Catholic Church official said.

The news comes weeks after Pope Francis released an encyclical urging the world to fight climate change and is likely to disappoint activists who want the Vatican to set a better example in that fight, The Guardian reported.

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“I think that the Vatican bank may think of initiatives which are at the core of this change,” Flaminia Giovanelli, who serves on the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice, said at a Wednesday news conference, according to The Guardian.

“So we will see in the future … [divestment] may be considered by the Vatican,” she continued.

The Vatican’s bank, known as the Institute for Religious Works, holds about 6 billion euro ($6.7 billion).

The decision about divestment is likely to center around whether the bank ought to reflect the pope’s ideology or not, especially if the pope’s opinions are not shared across the church.

George Pell, Francis’s chief economic minister, is skeptical of climate change, which also might influence any decision, The Guardian reported.

Max Hohenberg, spokesman for the Vatican’s bank, told the newspaper the issue is largely irrelevant, because about 95 percent of the bank’s investments are in government bonds, so “there isn’t much to divest.”

The Church of England formally ended its investments in fossil fuels in May.