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Investment Professionals Convene at Marquette University to Discuss Socially Responsible Investing October 10th, 2019
Rev. Séamus Finn, OMI, was the keynote speaker at Marquette’s first symposium on Socially Responsible Investing. Finn’s keynote explored the history of socially responsible investing, drawing on personal stories from his background and work as board chair of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR).
The event also sparked fruitful knowledge sharing and networking among Marquette students and faculty, and Milwaukee investment professionals. A wide-ranging panel discussion examined a variety of strategies and challenges on the minds of socially responsible investing practitioners and advocates.
Talk of socially responsible investing permeated campus as Finn guest lectured in Theology and Finance classes during his three-day visit to campus.
Socially Responsible Investing from the 1970’s to today
Finn noted two events as the genesis of the modern movement toward socially responsible investing: apartheid in South Africa and the use of chemical weapons in Vietnam. Shareholder advocacy was the method the ICCR used to combat these injustices. In each of these cases, shareholders demonstrated the ability to influence companies such as General Motors, Ford, and various legacy banks for their role fueling apartheid in South Africa, and Dow Chemical for manufacturing Napalm and Agent Orange used in Vietnam.
Since then, the ICCR has engaged with numerous corporations to improve human rights, food safety and sustainability, environmental health, water safety and sustainability, financial services, and global and domestic health. Though ICCR is not an exclusively Catholic organization, the influence of Catholic Social Teaching (CST) is evident in these priorities. Finn singled out the USCCB’s 1986 Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy titled “Economic Justice for All.”
So, how does ICCR do this? Through a variety of forms of shareholder advocacy, including stockholder resolutions, voting proxies, corporate dialogues, and other strategies.
Some tools Finn offered for promoting socially responsible investing are positive and negative screening, international norms-based screening, proxy voting, integration of environmental, societal, and governmental (ESG) factors, sustainability themed investing, and impact/community investing.
Contemporary issues in Socially Responsible Investing
Finn shared what he sees as some of the most important issues among socially responsible investors today:
- Climate change
- Private prisons
- Access to firearms
- Opioid addiction
- Artificial intelligence and robotics
These are not only concerns within the financial/corporate sector, Finn noted, they are a result of societal concern and shareholder interest. Furthermore, he noted that public interest in climate change is unique in that its impact reaches across all sectors.
Finn concluded his remarks with a poignant statement on what is at stake across all of the issues socially responsible investing targets.Despite the unprecedented standard of living present for most people in the United States, Finn cautioned against simply accepting the United States as a “promised land of political freedom and economic opportunities.” It’s imperative to remember the cost of this, Finn said, as we must recall with a sober humility the bloodshed that has contributed to the prosperity we enjoy today.
The importance of recognizing those who have suffered and working to prevent future suffering is integral to participating in SRI and to promoting peace through the business sector.
Socially Responsible Investing Panel
Following Finn’s speech, the symposium transitioned into a panel of professionals from the Milwaukee area. The panel was moderated by Christopher Merker, an adjunct professor of finance at Marquette who teaches a course on sustainable finance. The panelists were Laura Gough (Baird — Investment Consulting), Nadelle Grossman (Marquette University — Law & Governance), Joe Henzlik (ISS — Sustainability & Governance), Leo Harmon (Mesirow Financial — Asset Management), and Conner Darrow (Marquette University — AIM Student).
They discussed a variety of topics including:
- Individual definitions of SRI
- Screening and the importance of ESG in SRI
- Thoughts on the Business Roundtable
- Fiduciary law and obligations
- Driving forces in SRI
- Using SRI in small/mid-cap funds
- Trends in shareholder engagement
- Linking pay to ESG results
- Fossil fuel divestment
- Actionable ideas to implement SRI
The event concluded with a reception, where the attendees, panelists, and keynote speakers continued to discuss SRI and the variety of implications that it has in the promotion of peace and justice on a local, national, and international level.
The Socially Responsible Investing Symposium was organized by the Center for Peacemaking, College of Business Administration, and Finance Department. The event was sponsored by Baird, CFA Society Milwaukee, Mesirow Financial, Sage Advisory, and Federated Investors.
October is Respect Life Month October 2nd, 2019
October is Respect Life Month! This year’s Respect Life theme is “Christ Our Hope in Every Season of Life,” helping us become engaged with building a culture that cherishes every human life.
It’s time for us to renew our commitment to defending those most vulnerable in our midst. There are many ways we can get involved in our parishes, and our own prayer lives.
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has prepared a number of excellent resources to share with members of parish communities. You can also read this year’s Respect Life Month Statement by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, of Kansas City in Kansas and Chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
Missionary Oblates JPIC continues to advocate that “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.” CCC 2270.
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has a strong commitment to pro-life issues and their website is rich with related information. Visit the USCCB Pro-Life Initiative
Join us in praying for a greater respect for human life from conception to natural death:
“Father and maker of all,
you adorn all creation
with splendor and beauty,
and fashion human lives
in your image and likeness.
Awaken in every heart
reverence for the work of your hands,
and renew among your people
a readiness to nurture and sustain
your precious gift of life.
Grant this through our Lord
Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in
the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God forever and ever.
–USCCB Prayer for Life–
2019 World Day of Migrants and Refugees September 27th, 2019
World Day Of Migrant And Refugees – September 29, 2019
Pope Francis’ message for 2019 World Day of Migrants and Refugees:
“Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!” (Mt 14:27). It is not just about migrants: it is also about our fears. The signs of meanness we see around us heighten “our fear of ‘the other’, the unknown, the marginalized, the foreigner… We see this today in particular, faced with the arrival of migrants and refugees knocking on our door in search of protection, security and a better future.”
“¡Ánimo, soy yo, no tengáis miedo! (Mt 14,27). No se trata sólo de migrantes, también se trata de nuestros miedos. La maldad y la fealdad de nuestro tiempo acrecienta «nuestro miedo a los “otros”, a los desconocidos, a los marginados, a los forasteros […]. Y esto se nota particularmente hoy en día, frente a la llegada de migrantes y refugiados que llaman a nuestra puerta en busca de protección, seguridad y un futuro mejor.”
In line with the 2019 theme set forth by Pope Francis, “It is not just about migrants,” we present a podcast featuring the work of Missionary Oblate Fr. Jesse Esqueda, OMI, who shares his insight on the migrant and refugee crisis in Tijuana. The podcast was produced by: Br. Joey Methé, OMI – JPIC fellow.
Walking with the People of the Amazon September 26th, 2019
Why the Amazon Merits a Synod
By Cardinal-designate Michael Czerny, SJ & Msgr. David Martínez de Aguirre Guinea O.P.
The next Synod of Bishops, to be held in Rome, October 6-27, 2019, is on the Amazon and has as its theme “New paths for the Church and for integral ecology.” It will examine issues that are important to “every person living on the planet” as Pope Francis wrote in the introduction to his Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ (3).
Why is the Amazon so important that a synod is dedicated to it? What is “integral ecology,” and what might be “new paths” for the Church? Finally, what is a synod really all about? 
A few key facts about the Amazon region:
- Its size is 7.8 million square kilometers, approximately the same size as Australia.
- It includes areas of Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.
- There are approximately 33 million inhabitants, of whom 3 million are indigenous belonging to 390 diverse groups or peoples.
- Impact on the planetary ecosystem: the Amazon River basin and the surrounding tropical forests nourish the soil and regulate, through the recycling of moisture, the cycles of water, energy and carbon at the planetary level.
Access the full article at La Civiltà Cattolica.
Conversation With Bishop Valentine Kalumba, OMI, Catholic Diocese of Livingstone in Zambia September 25th, 2019
Bishop Valentine Kalumba, OMI, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Livingstone in Zambia talks about the projects he hopes to fund through a series of parish missions in the U.S.. He also talks about how he became an Oblate, his work as a parish priest in Western Zambia and how his life has changed since becoming a Bishop.
The Most Rev. Valentine Kalumba, OMI, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Livingstone in Zambia, sat down for a wide-ranging discussion of his call to Oblate priesthood, his time as pastor of mission parishes, his surprise at being named Bishop of Livingstone, and the changes the office has made in his work and life style.
Oblates Host 2019 McLean Center Scholars September 17th, 2019
The Council for Research in Values and Philosophy held its 2019 Annual Seminar from August 18-September 20 under the theme The Meaning of Democracy: Foundations & Contemporary Challenges. The seminar is an interdisciplinary and intercultural initiative with 15 scholars from different countries around the world participating. One objective of the seminar is for participants to practice mutual understanding and so achieve lasting forms of academic friendship and cooperation.
Participants twice visited the Oblate community in Washington DC during the month of September. On September 8th they participated in liturgy at the chapel and on September 10th they joined the community for lunch and listened to a lecture, “Issues of Justice/Democracy and Finance Today” presented by Fr. Séamus Finn OMI.
On Monday September 16th Fr, Séamus Finn, OMI also served on a panel of scholars and practitioners at a public event –Contemporary American Economic Culture and Its Values– organized by the McLean Center for the Study of Culture and Values.
Rev. George F. McLean, OMl (1929-2016), was the Founder of Catholic University of America’s (CUA) Center for the Study of Culture and Values, and the International Council for Research in Values and Philosophy (RVP, www.crvp.org). He taught philosophy at CUA from 1956-1993 but devoted his entire life to promoting dialogue and cooperation among different peoples, cultures and religions around the globe.
In 2017 to honor Fr. McLean the university officially inaugurated the CUA McLean Center for the Study of Culture and Values (MCSCV). Fr. McLean initiated an annual seminar in 1984 to invite scholars and philosophers from diverse cultures and civilizations to participate in five to ten week seminars in Washington, D.C. to discuss current and urgent philosophical issues.
For more information about the Center visit http://www.crvp.org/McLean/McLean.html
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