S&P creates 'Catholic Values' share index

The new SP 500 Catholic Values Index screens out companies tied to pornography, stem cell research, weapons production, military sales and child labor, as well as other unsustainable practices (AFP Photo/Andrew Burton)

New York (AFP) - S&P Dow Jones Indices announced Thursday a new share index to serve the increasing focus of Catholics on socially responsible investment.

S&P DJI said the new SP 500 Catholic Values Index is designed to follow the 2003 Socially Responsible Investment Guidelines from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, which stress responsible stewardship of economic resources, fighting poverty, human rights and adhering generally to Catholic Church ethics.

The index, which includes about 90 percent of S&P 500 companies, screens out those tied to pornography, stem cell research, weapons production, military sales and child labor, as well as other unsustainable practices.

Investment manager Global X said it will create an exchange-traded fund (ETF) based on the new index, allowing Catholics (and others) to align their investment with it.

"It is important that investors now have a representative measure of the performance of those S&P 500 companies that adhere to the Socially Responsible Investment Guidelines," said Seamus Finn, Chief of Faith Consistent Investing at the Oblate International Pastoral Investment Trust, which invests on behalf of some 200 Roman Catholic organizations.

Pope Francis has emphasized economic justice and fairness and global resource protection as a key part of his doctrine since he became head of the Catholic Church in 2013.

In speeches and statements, he has regularly criticized unrestrained capitalism and consumerism and has urged a strong fight against climate change.

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