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Catholic Investment Portfolios Avoid Supporting Immoral Business Activities

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Catholic Morality Encompasses a Wide Range of Topics

“The private sector must be not only an engine of growth and productivity, but also a reflection of our values and priorities, a contributor to the common good. Examples of greed and misconduct must be replaced with models of corporate responsibility.”  – USCCB Investing Guidelines

The Bishops’ guidelines include a wide variety of exclusions, some of which address categories of actions rather than specific prohibitions like abortion and contraception. We have chosen to gather these other exclusions under the banner of “Immoral Business Activities.”

Catholic social teaching covers a wide range of topics, and so does the USCCB’s investing guidelines.

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Faith informs every aspect of our lives and creating an exhaustive list of immoral business activities would be an enormous undertaking. Rather than proscribe minutiae and risk missing the forest for the trees, the Bishops have given wide, yet specific, types of actions. They are: Labor Conditions, Discriminatory Lending, Environmental Concerns and Corporate Stewardship.

Sweatshops and Poor Labor Conditions Must Be Excluded from Catholic Portfolios

“If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected.”  – USCCB Investing Guidelines

Sweatshop Workers Walking to WorkThe Catholic Church supports fair wages for labor of all types, manual, intellectual, industrial and agricultural. Sweatshops and the terrible working conditions many workers are subjected to are a gross violation of human rights. Exploiting workers to boost profits is immoral and contrary to the dignity work should confer upon the worker.

Catholic investors must not support companies that endanger their employees’ lives and well being through unsafe working conditions or unreasonably low wages.

The Church does not condemn the free market. Rather, it provides a conscience to a system that has a reputation for valuing money over people. While improving conditions in sweatshops or raising wages may reduce short term profitability, there can be no argument that the human benefits far outweigh the monetary considerations. As Catholics, we must promote the good of our fellow men over financial gain.

Support Development among the Poor by Excluding Financial Institutions that Practice Discriminatory Lending Practices

“We must ensure fair and equal access to available credit.”USCCB Investing Guidelines

Home for Sale Available to MinoritiesThe Church is concerned about reports indicating that banks and other financial institutions have created lending restrictions based on non-financial considerations. These artificial boundaries impose unjust barriers to credit among the poor. The Bishops are not saying there should be free money for all or that lenders cannot take certain risks into account when making loans.

Denying or overcharging loans for reasons of race, ethnicity or other accidental considerations is immoral.

Lending institutions can and should take relevant data into account when making loans. Where they cross the line is when they refuse to loan to individuals based on criteria that are not related to a person’s risk profile. Redlining is the quintessential example of discriminatory lending practices and must be avoided by Catholic investors.

Conservation Is Catholic Stewardship and an Investment in the Future

“We must seek a society where economic life and environmental commitment work together to protect and to enhance life on this planet.”  – USCCB Investing Guidelines

Polluting Factory Catholics Must Avoid Investing InGod’s creation is good and He charged humanity to be good stewards of it. Seeing this primordial duty of man to cultivate the natural world in light of investors’ unique role as part owners of corporations, the Bishops charge faithful investors to avoid companies that unnecessarily harm the environment.

Making use of the resources God has placed on Earth is commendable. Despoiling nature in the name of profit is an abuse of His gifts to us.

The Bishops note the rich heritage the Lord has given to us risks being destroyed as a result of short-sighted business plans. Instead, the USCCB urges investments that promote the development of clean energy and other environmentally sustainable practices. The guidelines extend one step further, though, adding that businesses should take care of employees who are adversely affected by a deteriorating environment.

The USCCB’s Guidelines are wide ranging and cover a variety of topics. Immoral Business Practices take many forms and the USCCB is careful to offer guidance on the categories of activities that must be avoided. From taking care of the environment to avoiding sweatshops and many other objectionable practices, Catholic investors need to work to improve all aspects of the world. With Summit Investments’ socially responsible portfolios, you can follow the USCCB’s guidelines to bring faith to the world.

Contact Summit Investments for a free consultation on how to invest without supporting immoral business practices.

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