The Gospel of Clean Finance According to the Vatican

December 06, 2022

Infusing morality with best business practices is the goal proposed by the Holy See in the latest document published by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences on November 25, 2022 .

“No investment is morally neutral; either we advance the kingdom of God in the way of managing its assets, or we set it back.” This is the main idea developed in the 46-page document entitled Mensuram Bonam (MB) – “the good measure” with reference to the Gospels (Luke 6, 38) – signed by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, in order to propose “measures for Catholic investors consistent with the faith.”

The document, which is meant to be a “starting point” and a “call to action,” lists 24 issues - from abortion to water management to pornography - that should be taken into account in any investment strategy.

As for the methodology of the document, the New York Times understands that it combines two things: on the one hand, a broad spiritual reflection which, along with beautiful reflections - let's face it - on the fight for life, in a mixture others related to an equivocal conception of human dignity or so-called “integral” ecology.

And also included are the conclusions of the Vanguard investment fund, which has been commissioned by the Vatican to help it centralize and harmonize the management of its assets, in accordance with the social doctrine of the Church.

Intended to be published almost a year ago, then revised last January, MB points to numerous investments to be avoided, such as “gambling sites, those that profit from war, pornography, abortion, and more broadly everything related to attacks on life and the protection of nature.”

In addition, Mensuram Bonam warns investors against the “collateral damage” of these toxic investments, and also points to “grey areas” in finance, such as “the abuse of speculative products or investment techniques,” or even “the use of accounting practices that exploit the protection offered by tax havens.”

Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, president of the Supervisory Board of the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), the Vatican “bank,” largely contributed to drafting the document presented by Cardinal Peter Turkson, new Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

Earlier this year, the financier also defended his balance sheet at IOR, where, in his own words, “an internal policy for investments consistent with the faith” is carried out.

Mensuram Bonam, whatever its limits, has the merit of putting its finger on a subject whose importance goes far beyond the issue of financial investments made by religious institutes.