AN international coalition of Catholic institutions have pledged to take their money out of fossil fuels.

The commitment by 35 religious orders, lay organisations and social justice movements to "divest" their money from the polluting energy sources was announced by the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM).

Those signed up to the move include humanitarian aid organisation Caritas Internationalis, three Catholic banks with balance sheets totalling about €7.5 billion (£6.6bn), as well as several dioceses and other institutions.

The announcement, aimed at tackling climate change and its impact on communities, was made on Earth Day.

Caritas Internationalis president Cardinal Luis Tagle said: "The poor are suffering greatly from the climate crisis and fossil fuels are among the main drivers of this injustice.

"That is why Caritas Internationalis has decided not to invest in fossil fuels anymore. We encourage our member organisations and other groups or organisations connected to the Church to do the same."

The banks switching away from fossil fuels are Pax Bank, Bank Im Bistum Essen eG and Steyler Ethik Bank, GCCM announced.

The archdiocese of Luxembourg, Salerno-Campagna-Acerno in Italy and Communaute Mission de France also announced divestment by their dioceses.

Religious orders and institutions from four continents, in countries such as Belgium, Cameroon, Canada, China, Germany and Rwanda have also signed up to the pledge.

In the UK, the Missionary Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception and the St Mary of the Angels justice and peace group in England are among the 35 organisations involved.

The Sisters of Mercy in Northern Ireland and the charity the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (Sciaf), which is part of Caritas Internationalis, have added their voice to the pledge.

Sciaf director Alistair Dutton said: "Sciaf's commitment not to invest in oil, gas and mining companies fits with our commitment to climate justice, and our overall ethical investment policy.

"The world is facing ecological, humanitarian and moral crises, as we approach the point of no return from irreversible global warming and climate chaos. Highly polluting fossil fuels are a major driving force behind this.

"The communities Sciaf works with in developing countries are already struggling to cope with the impact of climate change."

The 35-strong group joins 60 Catholic organisations that previously decided not to invest in fossil fuels.

Tomas Insua, executive director of GCCM, which co-ordinated the action, said: "When it comes to protecting our common home, we have not a moment to lose. Church leadership on this issue has never been more important."