by Susi SnyderDrew Christiansen
in National Catholic Reporter

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.

Catholic bishops in Japan asked their government to sign onto the treaty, as have bishops in Canada, the United KingdomGermany and Belgium.

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…

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2 thoughts on “U.S. bishops’ new investment guidelines should address nuclear arms

  1. Just a dream: Is there a way in which countries such as Iran and North Korea( and any other budding nuclear arms power) could be cajoled into becoming true world leaders by abandoning their pursuit of nuclear weapons? Is there a way in which their adoption of this “new” path could be rewarded by the countries who have signed onto the TPNW? It seems that those who support the TPNW should be willing to contribute, according to their means, to make it worthwhile for those not yet “in the game” to collaborate with signees. Given the realities of the current world, financial considerations would be a must. But, other considerations would include: recognition of the dignity of all nations and peoples while recognizing differences in many characteristics between nations; respect for efforts to include all nations in international communications with the goal of listening and acting on the expressed needs of all peoples; a willingness to share achievements without trying to be better than or dominate others; and any efforts to improve all lives without any destructive competition, sanctions, or threats. This dream would have nations relate with one another for positive results that would outshine those holding onto destructive actions and make them distant outliers. True unity(economically, socially, psychologically) in a “new path” could create a world order where dignity and respect are the bases of life and destructive abilities are shunned. Organizing outside the nuclear giants might force them to join potential leaders like Iran and No. Korea in the pursuit of peaceful living. Could this be possible? If we can dream, then we can form a plan and also act on that plan. Love is so much stronger than force. Peace.

    1. The biggest dream is beginning a discussion in the USA to destroy our present stockpile of nuclear weapons and promise never to build them ever again. If you want to convince (cajole) someone else not to do something then you must first do it for you to then expect them to follow your example. Yes, “I have a dream…” hat love will win over hatred.

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