(Note: I update this post periodically with changes to the investments and the rationale for adding or removing any specific stocks.)
We can take a few different approaches:
This route outsources our investment decisions to others and comes with the risk that these people or organizations will make poor decisions, either from a Catholic moral position and/or from a financial standpoint.
At first blush, investing in Catholic mutual funds, like Ave Maria and Aquinas, seems like a no-brainer: pay a bit higher fee (around 1% typically for these kinds of funds) but you can be confident that the managers of the funds are investing in a Catholic way.
In fact, I used to own funds from both of these companies. I no longer do.
I evaluate these fund families by 1) looking at their managers and Catholic advisory boards (here's Ave's for instance), and 2) looking at the specific equities held in their funds.
Just taking Ave Maria as an example, their advisory board has people on it whom I do not have high confidence 1) are aligned with my Catholic sensibilities in many areas, nor 2) (even if they are aligned) are engaged and competent at evaluating companies from a moral standpoint.
Your mileage may vary, and you may be super-impressed by all the people on those boards. I am not, and even find some of them problematic (as in, people who may choose companies diametrically opposed to my views!).
Second, look at the equities the funds invest in. Not to pick on Ave again, but I selected two of their funds, and the top holdings both contain Microsoft (e.g. their Growth fund).
Microsoft, and any Big Tech firm, are opposed in countless ways to the Catholic Church and the Catholic Faith.
As a Catholic, I don't want to hold any stock in Big Tech, whether Apple or Facebook or Twitter or Google, or Microsoft.
I grant you that those investments have been lucrative over the past ten to fifteen years (say, 2008 to 2022). But lucrative is not a sufficient condition for us to invest as a Catholic.
Knowing that Ave Maria sees a company like Microsoft as not being opposed to Catholic moral teaching raises big alarm bells for me.
My conclusion is that outsourcing your investment decisions to a Catholic mutual fund company is not acceptable.
For instance, we could hire a financial advisor (e.g. Edward Jones) and let them invest our money.
We could even hire a Catholic financial advisor (whether he works for himself or a bigger organization) and hope that he invests in line with our moral understanding.
Unfortunately this route is unlikely to result in good investment choices. At best, it would be no better than investing in Ave Maria or Aquinas funds, and may be far worse depending on the person.
What about investing in index funds, like S&P 500 index funds?
This approach is the most problematic, because you are guaranteed to invest in companies that directly or indirectly promote or sell goods and services that directly contradict Catholic moral teaching.
Not only are such funds heavily invested in Big Tech companies, but they also include Big Pharma and countless other companies that profit from immorality and evil.
One difficult consequence of not being able to invest in such funds is that most 401(k) plans limit one's investments to such funds, making it near impossible to have a 401(k) that is morally invested.
My decision on my 401(k) is currently: invest in it to get my company's match, but since I have no moral options other than a dollar-pegged money market fund, I put my money into that.
So, my money earns no interest (and with inflation loses purchasing power), but with a 50% company match I am still doing better than I would had I not contributed to my 401(k).
The final option is to take direct ownership of our investing decisions and hand-pick stocks, bonds, and equities to invest in.
This route is the most painstaking, time-consuming, and financially risky of the four options, but it is the one that I have chosen, since the other three do not pass muster.
I would rather invest morally and make less money (or even lose money) than invest immorally.
This route means you "make your own mutual fund" or ETF, not formally of course, but informally by buying individual stocks and (moral) funds and allocating a percent of your investment capital to each as you deem prudent.
I list below my current portfolio. I update it regularly, because oftentimes a company that passed my bar will begin to fail it.
For example, Hershey's fired their employees who declined to be injected with the experimental vaccines. That action is enough for me to jettison them from my list.
Coca-Cola decided to become Woke-a-Cola with their horrendous employee "training" materials. I jettisoned them.
Now, maybe you don't want to spend the time or think you have the expertise to make individual investment choices like this. Fair enough, but your choice is either to spend that time and grow your expertise and do so, or not invest at all (a valid approach), or outsource your investment decisions and almost certainly end up investing in immoral companies.
(Last updated: 2/23/2022)
Asset | Area
XOM | Oil/Gas
OGZPY | Oil/Gas (frozen due to Russian sanctions)
EPD | Oil/Gas
ET | Oil/Gas
CLR | Oil/Gas
INFL | Inflation ETF
ADM | Agriculture
RYN | Timber/Real Estate
LAND | Farmland/Real Estate
CAT | Building Equipment
HD | Building Supplies
ABBV | Pharmaceutical
SYY | Food
KMB | Consumer Staples
CLX | Consumer Staples
MMM | Industrial Products
ADP | Payroll
GOLD | Gold Miner
URNM | Uranium
SRUUF | Uranium
PHYS | Gold
PSLV | Silver
SWBI | Guns
GBTC | Bitcoin
ETHE | Ethereum
When I add or remove stocks from this list, I will update here with the reasoning behind the decision.
Also, I am interested in hearing from you, if you have input into any of the above companies. Some of them I have not (yet) been able to find a problem with, but I suspect that they may be problematic in ways I have not yet discovered.
For instance, AbbVie is a pharmaceutical company, so I suspect they must make some product that is immoral or that uses aborted babies' cells. I have not been able to discover that this is the case but if someone found that out, I would remove them from this list.
Removed MCD (McDonalds), since it has crappy food and due it deciding to leave the Russian market for virtue-signaling purposes.
I invest beyond equities as well, for instance, I think gold is good for insurance and wealth preservation purposes, and that Bitcoin is good as a speculative store of value and hedge against system collapse.
For detailed info on a total portfolio for a Catholic, you can get my book Lionheart Catholic II by just paying shipping and handling.