Vatican Sets Criteria for Catholic Investors

February 06, 2023

The Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, whose Chancellor is Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, on November 25, 2022 published the document Mensuram Bonam (Good Measure).

Its title refers to the Gospel of St. Luke where it says: “Give, and it shall be given to you: good measure and pressed down and shaken together and running over shall they give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you shall mete withal, it shall be measured to you again”  (Lk. 6:38).

The 45 page pamphlet, published in several languages, intends to set out “faith-based measures for Catholic investors.” The Vatican details for the first time a series of criteria that investors in the financial markets should take into account, reports the newspaper La Croix.

The document points out 24 categories of investments that must alert mistrust or even be considered prohibited. Among these are the promotion of abortion, armaments, capital punishment, contraceptives, and pornography.

The Academy of Social Sciences also advises against investments in “genetic engineering,” (including the GMO sector), “dehumanizing computer games and toys,” “animal abuse/experimentation,” or sectors promoting the “rights violations of indigenous peoples.”

Mensuram Bonam is the result of work started in 2016. About 15 economists and financiers, including three French people, worked directly on its development, and about 60 others were consulted.

The three French collaborators are Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, President of the Board of Directors of the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR); Pierre de Lauzun, polytechnician and author of works on the social doctrine of the Church; and Antoine de Salins, treasurer of the Notre Dame Foundation.

About to be published in 2020, the text had been deemed by some in the Vatican too close to a liberal line, which had led to the revision of the project. Strictly speaking, the published document is not part of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, but one can wonder if it announces a future document on the subject, which will be signed by Pope Francis.

The stakes are considerable, notes La Croix, and far exceeds that of the financial investments made by religious communities. Some studies estimate that more than 2,000 billion in “Christian money” is invested in the world, emanating from Christian institutions as well as believers.

On November 28, 2022, Catholic News Service (CNS) reported that the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), commonly known as the Vatican Bank, has an “internal policy for consistent investments in faith,” following a presentation sent to the Catholic News Service earlier this year by Jean-Baptiste de Franssu.

And the consistent investment in the faith “goes much further in terms of moral responsibility” because it is based on Catholic social teaching with its “vision of the human person, his/her integral development and vocation in relationship with God, with other persons and with creation,” explains Mensuram Bonam. (p.8)

“Faith cannot be a private reality, a set of personal convictions, formed from an individual’s own doctrine and worship. Faith is incomplete without a vision of the world rooted in God’s Word, and without assuming our place in it through our works.” (p.16)