Monday, March 26, 2007

Prayer Request for Jesuit shareholder Advocacy

Prayer request for Jesuit shareholder advocacy
March 15, 2007

In 2003, Fr. Kolvenbach referenced the 34th General Congregation naming Africa as an area of apostolic preference for the Society of Jesus. (Apostolic Preferences 2003/01)

“Jesuits in Africa are engaged in the challenge of building up a young and vibrant African Church, rooted in the richness of different cultures, creating new bonds of solidarity among their peoples, and struggling to overcome the global forces that tend to marginalize the whole continent”

One concrete strategy to advance this apostolic directive has been shareholder advocacy. While our influence with host governments in lesser developed countries can be distant, we do have direct access to North American corporations that do business in these regions through our investments.

Particularly in lands which are resource-rich, the rewards of these natural gifts have generally eluded and often worsened the situation of people living near mineral wealth. The title of recent report by the Nigerian Catholic Bishops says it all, “The Travesty of Oil and Gas Wealth.” Through civil conflicts, corruption and environmental damage, investment which could improve conditions of host communities is often misdirected, lost or wasted. Sometimes civilians are caught in the violent clashes between armed interests, including contracted security forces. While host governments have a responsibility to their citizens, trans-national companies also have a vital role given their influence and infrastructure in these regions. In addition to our investments, the religious community brings the earned trust of host communities through local Jesuits ministries and other faith networks.

U.S. and Canadian Jesuit Provinces are united in our shareholder advocacy promoting human rights and global health. Jesuit provinces are currently leading shareholder dialogues with Bristol Myers Squibb, Monsanto and Occidental Petroleum.

For the past 2.5 years, we have also held dialogues with Chevron Corporation encouraging the adoption and deployment of a transparent, verifiable and comprehensive human rights policy to govern their exploratory, extractive, refining and distribution operations in the 180 countries where they operate. We maintain that human rights must include provisions for: sustainable development, consent of host communities, environmental stewardship, human rights training for employees and contracted security policies, and healthcare access.

On April 26, 2007 our Jesuit-led resolution will be considered at Chevron’s annual shareholder meeting before the full board of directors. Last year our resolution received an impressive 24% shareholder vote and we hope to build on that in the coming year. In the weeks prior to the meeting, Chevron shareholders will be casting their votes regarding this resolution. We petition all Jesuit institutions and friends of the Society who own Chevron stock to vote FOR of the Jesuit-led shareholder Resolution to develop a Human Rights policy.

We are thankful for the U.S. and Canadian Jesuit provincials who have unanimously supported this effort, as well as the other religious and social investors who have joined us, including Creighton and Marquette Universities who co-filed in support of our resolution. We enthusiastically invite others to consider joining this effort. We pray that corporate leadership within and beyond the energy sector, may see that their social license and long-term interests are best served by protecting human life and promoting the human potential of host communities. Please consider inviting your school, parish, religious community or organization to join the Jesuit shareholder advocacy effort through prayer and action.

Gracious God,
You gifted the earth with bountiful gifts –
gifts you intended to be shared equitably among all your peoples.
You crowned the splendor of creation with the gift of human life,
endowing each person with a measure of your own divine dignity.
Bless the efforts of those who work to insure that all share fairly in
your wondrous gifts.
Bless the efforts of those who work to insure that the dignity of all
your beloved children is protected and revered.
Move the hearts of those with power – corporate and civic leaders – to understand their responsibility to effect just policies and to be wise
stewards of your gifts.
May all persons of faith be tireless advocates for those who lack a voice in our world and may we all work unceasingly for the dawning of that justice without which there cannot be true and lasting peace. Amen.

National Jesuit Corporate Investment Responsibility Committee
Mr. Mark Potter (California Province)
Rev. Richard L. Millbourn, S.J. (Chicago Province)
Ms. Carrie Monnette (Detroit Province)
Mr. Tim Kelly (Maryland Province)
Rev. Michael Linden, S.J. (New England Province)
Rev. Kevin Cullen, S.J. (Missouri Province)
Ms. Mary Baudouin (New OrleƔns Province)
Rev. Mark Hallinan, S.J. (New York Province)
Mr. William Lockyear (Oregon Province)
Mr. John Sealey (Wisconsin Province)
Fr. Winston Rye, S.J. (Upper Canada Province)
Ms. Anna Bradley (Jesuit Conference Consultant for Socially Responsible Investing)
Mr. John Kleiderer (Jesuit Conference Liason)