For the first time in 20 years, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is updating its socially responsible investment guidelines, which inform the investment decisions made by many church organizations across the country.
One item worth consideration: Now that the Vatican is party to an international treaty seeking to ban nuclear weapons, could the guidelines address investments in companies tied up in the manufacture or sale of nuclear arms?
In January, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) became international law. This is the first major multilateral nuclear weapons treaty in decades. As a historic milestone, it became the first legally binding international agreement to establish a comprehensive prohibition on nuclear weapons, placing them in the same off-limits category as other weapons of mass destruction such as chemical and biological weapons.
The new treaty has support from more than two-thirds of UN members, including the Holy See. The nuclear-armed states, including the U.S., are not yet at the table.
Echoing the appeal of Pope Francis to work “decisively toward promoting conditions necessary for a world without nuclear weapons,” several Catholic bishops’ conferences and religious authorities from all over the world have already expressed support for the treaty and urged campaigns to mobilize society and politics to promote the accord’s universal adoption.
Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has called national and world leaders “to persevere in their efforts to abolish these weapons of mass destruction, which threaten the existence of the human race and our planet.” This call can be put into action in the new investment guidelines.
In 2015, Francis told the U.S. Congress that profit from the arms industry is money “drenched in blood.” The only reason to hold any shares in weapons firms is to encourage them to end their involvement in the production of illegal and inhumane weapons through shareholder advocacy. Responsible investment policies, whether by shareholder initiative or disinvestment, offer opportunities to shift narrow economic interests toward efforts for the global good…