In launching our major Laudato Si’ Invitations, Commitments and Actions in October 2021, the Bishop and Directors of the Diocesan Charitable Trust made some significant commitments at Diocesan level, building on a heritage of over 30 years of ethical investment and other pioneering work supporting the themes highlighted by Laudato Si’
Our three new commitments
1. Divestment from fossil fuels. In June 2021 we ascertained that there was no current investment in fossil fuels, and we have now made the firm commitment that there will be no future investment in companies where more than 10% of the business is making or trading fossil fuels.
We are very grateful for the guidance and support of Operation Noah, who lead in this area, and we warmly encourage any companies, or other institutions with investments, to contact Operation Noah for support in making the same divestment pledge.
Read the full detail here: Laudato Si Appendix 2 – Diocesan Ethical Investment Policy, incl. Permanent Divestment from Fossil Fuels
2. Professional advice to help develop a decarbonisation strategy for our buildings. This commitment includes a survey of Diocesan property, to see where we can reduce energy usage. and achieve the best energy efficiency, as well as to consider where we can become generators of renewable energy. It is a serious, long term commitment, and should dramatically reduce the amount of CO2 we are emitting into the atmosphere. This is coupled with consideration around travel in the Diocese, as well as a careful look at the supply chain for consumables used in the Diocese.
This builds on work begun in 2020, such that all parishes in the Diocese have the opportunity to purchase energy generated by renewable sources; over 95% of our parishes now subscribe to this. And it means that gas used in the Diocese comes as a by-product of gin production!
3. We are planning for the future employment of an Environmental Sustainability Co-ordinator. This role would be a point of contact for parishes seeking to deepen this area of their ministry.
We hope to be able to share more details about this role in the months ahead, and look forward to being able to appoint someone to take this work forward in the Diocese.
Our existing commitments
We are building on a long heritage within the Diocese. Our Ethical Investment Policy was first developed in the 1990s, and included prohibition on investment in companies producing weapons, pornography, tobacco, and any chemical products which contravene Church teaching on the sanctity of life. The full details of the policy have been in our Company report since the 1990s, and are also given here: Laudato Si Appendix 2 – Diocesan Ethical Investment Policy, incl. Permanent Divestment from Fossil Fuels
Our Emeritus Bishop, Rt Rev Thomas McMahon, lived this policy by peacefully protesting outside the “arms fair” at the Excel centre in London each year.
Organisations which can help in developing work in this area include Pax Christi, Cafod, and the Fair Trade Foundation.
In 2018 we founded Caritas Diocese of Brentwood, joining the national Catholic Social Action Network, and the International Caritas Network. In 2021 we employed a Caritas Development Co-ordinator for the Diocese, and this work continues to build and strengthen, as links are formed between many local and parish projects doing heroic and often hidden work serving those who are marginalised and in need across the Diocese.
In 2018 we also made the commitment to pay all employees in the Diocese the Real Living Wage. This is distinct from the National Minimum Wage (sometimes known as the National Living Wage). The Real Living Wage takes into account a wider basket of costs and is calculated in accordance with Catholic Social Teaching that dates back to 1891. In Rerum Novarum Pope Leo XIII advocated that a living wage would be one that supported a family, living “thriftily.” Such a wage gives dignity, and lifts families from poverty.
If you are an employer who would like to know more about the Real Living Wage, to implement it in your company, or if you are an employee who would like to work with your company managers to implement the Real Living Wage, then all the information you need will be readily given by the wonderful team at the Living Wage Foundation.