Presentation Sisters go green as part of move against fossil fuels

Catholic church explores how investments can promote solutions to climate crisis

Pope Francis after this week’s general audience in St Peter’s Square:  in 2013 he declared the founder of the Presentation Sisters, Nano Nagle, “venerable”. Photograph: Ettore Ferrari/ETA

Pope Francis after this week’s general audience in St Peter’s Square: in 2013 he declared the founder of the Presentation Sisters, Nano Nagle, “venerable”. Photograph: Ettore Ferrari/ETA

 

The Presentation Sisters are among the first Catholic institutions in the world to announce their divestment from fossil fuels.

They are involved in a joint announcement today, from a coalition of more than 40 Catholic organisations across five continents, which marks the first anniversary of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si . It highlighted people’s responsibility to care for and protect the planet.

The global coalition includes a broad range of faith-based organisations: among them the first bishops’ conference to divest (that of Belgium), the first Catholic bank to divest (Bank for the Church and Caritas from Germany) and major institutions of Assisi in Italy – the diocese, the Sacro Convento, which houses the bones of St Francis, and the town/municipality.

Speaking about their decision, the Presentation Sisters’ congregational leader, Sr Mary Deane said, “We regard our ethical investment policy as an expression of our commitment as a congregation.”

Environmental degradation

She said that “over the next five years or sooner if possible” they would “divest from any company whose primary business is the extraction, production and/or distribution of fossil fuel or uranium or who is responsible for environmental degradation, and from making any future investment in any such company.”

They further committed themselves “to exploring how our investments can promote sustainable solutions to the current climate change crisis”, she said.

For several years, the Presentation Sisters in Ireland have been “monitoring and aligning investments with projects that reflect their values and commitment to caring for human rights and the whole community of life”.

The ethos of responding to climate change has been also been taken up by Presentation schools across the country.

The Presentation Sisters congregation was founded with a mission to educate girls in 1775 by Cork woman Nano Nagle, who was declared “venerable” by Pope Francis in 2013. The congregation has a presence in 24 countries.