New investment guidelines approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) this week mandate no investments be made in companies involved with gender transitions, even as they refused to divest fully from fossil fuels.
At their meeting in Baltimore, the bishops updated the investment guidelines for the first time since 2003. These guidelines relate both to the USCCB’s own investments, which totaled roughly $270 million in 2020, as well as other Catholic institutions. According to the National Catholic Reporter, transgender rights became a target in this update:
“The document obtained by Catholic News Service includes numerous concerns in which the U.S. bishops’ conference will not invest as well as others in which the conference will engage corporations through vote proxies and support of shareholder resolutions to change company practices. . .
“Investment policies in the document cover five categories: protecting human life, promoting human dignity, enhancing the common good, pursuing economic justice and saving our global common home. . .
“Other companies where investments would not occur include those involved with pornography or sexual exploitation or those that ‘directly participate in the performance of sex reassignment surgery or in the administration of drugs or hormones for the purposes of delaying normal puberty or of changing the body of an individual to correspond to a sex discordant with biological sex.'”
In addition to the anti-transgender portions, the investment guidelines also seek to encourage companies in which stocks are owned “to advocate for an understanding of marriage or sexuality that is consistent with church teaching and natural law.”
NCR also reported that the bishops chose to continue investments in some companies with policies and practices contrary to other areas of Catholic teaching:
“The draft policy calls for engagement, rather than not investing, with companies regarding climate change, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, environmental protection, water depletion, human rights, racial and social discrimination, human trafficking, hate speech in social media, discrimination or infringement on religious freedom, privacy and civil liberties.”
The discrepancy in how the investment guidelines were updated is jarring. The bishops persist here in their campaign against transgender equality, particularly in healthcare matters, while still failing to address real justice issues. They again send a message that questions of gender and sexuality, and not the existential threat of climate change or the crushing violence of racism, are where Catholics should focus. That is the real scandal of this past week.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, November 19, 2021