An example of a journalistic rush to judgment

A curious piece in the Financial News with a stupid headline:

Vatican backs new equities index

Phil Craig
26 Apr 2010

Investors are being invited to put money into a new Catholic equities index that is being backed by the Vatican, at a time when the church is dealing with an increasing number of disaffected congregants in the wake of abuse allegations.

European index provider Stoxx launched the Stoxx Europe Christian index today. It takes companies in the Stoxx Europe 600 index and excludes companies that do not meet predetermined tolerance levels for activities including pornography, arms, gambling and birth control.

The criteria that underlie the index are decided by an independent committee, led by US asset manager Christian Brothers Investment Services, which specialises in socially responsible investing according to Catholic principles. Other members of the committee include representatives of the Vatican, the Missionary International Service News Agency, and academics and professional investors.



What I glean from this is that some organization of the Christian Brothers has done something.  Because it involves money, and probably also the Holy See’s Institute for the Works of Religion ("Vatican Bank") the Holy See has people on the board.  That doesn’t make that organization of the Christian Brothers "The Vatican".

These dopey journalists…

If something has to do with any aspect of the Catholic Church they rush to conclude that "The Vatican" is pulling the strings.

That aside, it would be interesting to know more about this Stoxx Europe Christian index someday.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Grabski says:

    From the press release, STOXX Ltd, a self described “global index provider and creator of the leading European equity indices, today announced the launch of the STOXX Europe Christian Index. The new index measures the performance of companies selected from the STOXX Europe 600 Index according to the values and principles of the Christian religion.”

    So this company created an ‘ethical’ index, whereby “The STOXX Europe Christian Index is designed to act as a proper benchmark for actively managed funds, and to underlie exchange-traded funds and other investable products that enable investors to participate in the performance of European companies which are compliant with Christian moral and social doctrines.”

    So, among other advisors on the criteria, is ‘the Vatican’. Not sure which department or arm. But academics are also among the advisors.

    Does not appear to be ‘backed’ except that the Vatican (whoever that might be) will join in to set up the criteria. Not sure why “The Vatican” and Christian Brothers both need to be queried!

    press release here

  2. jasoncpetty says:

    If something has to do with any aspect of the Catholic Church they rush to conclude that “The Vatican” is pulling the strings.

    Unless that something’s a good thing. :)

  3. maynardus says:

    By this logic, Fr. Z is a priest of the Church whose central governance is in the Vatican, therefore “The Vatican” approves of blognics, Martinis on Sunday night, and Chinese Noodles!

    Well I’ve always said that “Traddies Have More Fun”… I’m sure Belloc would APPROVE!

  4. maynardus: Having worked in the Vatican, I can assure that this – mutatis mutandis – is decidedly so.

  5. Mark01 says:

    “…excludes companies that do not meet predetermined tolerance levels for activities including pornography, arms, gambling and birth control”.

    I’m sorry, I didn’t realize we had any tolerance for pornography or birth control. Arms and gambling, I suppose tolerance levels could be set for those.

  6. RichardT says:

    No-one is being “invited to put money” into anything.

    This is an index, not a fund – it just measures how a particular set of shares is performing, just like the Dow Jones or the FTSE100 does.

    Yes someone might later set up an investment fund that will only hold shares in this index, and people could then invest in that, but there’s no sign of it yet. Rather than being the basis for a fund, it seems the point of this index is to set a benchmark against which the performance of various “ethical” funds (and there are lots out there) can be judged.

    You’d have thought that a financial journalist would understand that.

    Interesting though that there doesn’t seem to be any mention of this on the Christian Brothers Investment Services website. According to that, the only thing they’ve been doing this week is celebrating their founder’s feast-day (which seems very proper).

  7. RichardT says:

    P.S. – are Martinis allowed on other days? Just askin’.

Comments are closed.