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Faiths urged to repent, divest from fossil fuels

A prayer service held on March 9 was part of a worldwide fossil fuel Divestment Week of Action to encourage people of faith and their organisations to divest from fossil fuels as part of their broader responsibility to care for the earth.

Held during the Christian season of Lent at St Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral in Parramatta, the event highlighted that people of faith and faith-based organisations should “repent” of unwittingly allowing their savings to finance coal, oil and gas mining.

Leaders from several faiths participated in the event, including the Most Rev. Vincent Long OFM Conv, the Venerable Bhante Sujato, Rabbi George Mordecai, Ahmet Ozturk, the Rev. Meredith Williams and the Rev. Dr Shenouda Mansour.

Bishop Vincent Long of Parramatta said in his homily, “The time has come for us to act decisively to reduce our carbon footprint, to invest in renewable energy, to divest from fossil fuels, to consume less and waste less …”

“So ‘now is the time for new courage in abandoning fossil fuels, to accelerate the development of zero- or positive-impact sources of energy,’ Pope Francis said recently. The Vatican Bank itself does not invest in fossil fuels and it is hoped that this example is followed, not just by Catholics but others as well,” he said.

Theravada Buddhist monk, Venerable Bhante Sujato says, “Escalating climate chaos unfolds before us every day, in every nation, in cold and heat, in flood and fire. We fear for ourselves and for our children, yet sometimes we do not even know that our own money is funding the madness. The big banks and financial institutions are too often deeply dependent on fossil fuel investments, profiting while the world burns.”

“Divesting from fossil fuels breaks this cycle. When consumers refuse to participate in destructive fossil fuel profiteering, it sends an unmistakable signal,” he said.

Thea Ormerod, president of Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) says, “It is not well known that the big banks and funds tend to invest heavily in coal, oil and gas mining and infrastructure, but certain banks, such as Bendigo Bank and Bank Australia, avoid this and instead engage in ‘positive impact investing’.”

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