Archbishopric General Vicariate Cologne © Alexander Foxius (DR)
With a lawsuit, the research center "Correctiv" wanted to force the archdiocese of Cologne to make public investments in companies, bonds or shares. The administrative court has now dismissed the complaint – much to the delight of the archdiocese.
"Every euro from the church tax that members provide us with is used for church-related tasks. This is decided predominantly by elected representatives of the members," explains Vicar General Markus Hofmann. "Pastoral care, Caritas and education are at the center of this process. In surveys, people – not only Catholics – confirm that they value this commitment very much. We invest funds that serve as provisions for long-term obligations in accordance with ethical and sustainable principles, without exception. There is full transparency and regular reports."
Transparency and control of the investment of assets and the use of funds would be ensured by the Church Tax and Economic Council, which is composed of church taxpayers and predominantly elected (23 of 28 members), the archdiocese announced on Thursday. Church taxes would be collected and used exclusively for the financial needs of parishes, church institutions and works as well as diocesan and supra-diocesan church purposes. The income and use of church tax are documented in the annual financial statements and business plans prepared in accordance with legal requirements, which are published annually and can be accessed on the archdiocese's website, the statement continues
Binding requirements for bonds
In the case of investments, which are primarily used to hedge long-term obligations such as.B. The archdiocese follows investment guidelines for the pension plan of its employees. These include binding guidelines on how the assets can be invested in the various forms of investment in accordance with Christian values, including the responsible treatment of creation. The ethically-sustainable investment criteria are the result of an intensive and broad discussion with the Church Tax and Economic Council. In implementation, an external service provider (imug Beratungsgesellschaft fur sozial-okologische Innovationen mbH) selects the securities to be excluded from the investment based on the investment criteria of the Archbishopric of Cologne. This excludes the financing of companies and states whose activities or actions fundamentally contradict Christian values.
The ethically-sustainable investment criteria of the Archdiocese of Cologne are published in the financial report and exclude, for example, investments that involve violations or allegations in connection with bribery and corruption, human rights, forced or child labor, environmental pollution, as well as the production of armaments, pornography or means in connection with abortion or contraception. Also excluded are the ownership or operation of nuclear power plants without a time-fixed decision to phase them out. In order to sustainably support the necessary transformation from fossil to other energy sources, the Archdiocese of Cologne pursues a best-in-class approach to investments in the energy sector, taking into account a variety of sustainability aspects that relate to all relevant areas of the respective corporate activity, the statement says.
Control by independent auditors
Compliance with the ethical-sustainable investment guidelines is checked annually by an independent auditor. "There is full member control over the use of financial resources and over investments. For this purpose, we use the established and proven procedures in our company. The elected bodies ensure that this is the case," says Vicar General Hofmann. The capital investment management of the Archdiocese of Cologne is designed to enable the church to fulfill its tasks and to secure them in the long term, also under aspects of sustainability. Hofmann: "The church is there for people in pastoral care, charity and education, and thus also makes a contribution to an intact society worth living in. This of course includes the long-term preservation of creation."