By Richard Dowden THE JESUITS have decided not to sell their 1182,000 worth of shares in Consolidated Gold Fields, the company which the Westminster bishops last week described as indirectly supporting apartheid in South Africa.
Last week the Westminster diocesan financial trustees announced that protracted and detailed talks with Consolidated Gold Fields had failed to bring about sufficient change In the company's policy and they had no alternative but to sell their 11,211 shares in the company.
In a statement issued on Tuesday a spokesman for the Trustees for Roman Catholic Purposes, which administers the property of the English Province of the Jesuits, said that they had considered carefully the suggestion that Christian bodies should dispose of shares in companies involved in South Africa.
The statement said that the matter had been before the trustees for some years but they found the moral issue less clear-cut than some observers did.
"While accepting the responsibility which the possession of such shares entails they remain for the moment unconvinced that their disposal will necessarily benefit the black peoples of South Africa."
The statement goes on "No transfer of shares can guarantee that the buyer will be any more effective than the seller in protecting the interests of the workers or in operating against the South African Government's apartheid polities.
'An extensive withdrawal of foreign investments could leave South African business in the hands of those who lack all concern for workers' human rights.
"On the other hand if it is hoped to bring about change in South Africa, recent history has shown (for instance in relations between the West and the Soviet Union) that progress from confrontation to partial dialogue can be stimulated by maintaining trading and cultural relations as well as diplomatic exchanges.
"The trustees are taking advice particularly from those with local knowledge and concern as to how their interest might be brought to influence events. They intend to Support the proposals now mooted for an EEC code of conduct for companies operating in South Africa, with special reference to black workers' wages and labour conditions."
A search at Companies' House revealed several other Church organisations with shares in Consolidated Gold Fields.
The Friends of the Clergy, which gives grants to Anglican clergymen and their families, has nearly ELMO invested. The secretary said that the activities of the trust were confidential. The next meeting of the trust's board was on August 2, but he could not say what was on the agenda.
The Church Pastoral Aid Trust, another Anglican organisation recently sold its 1,000 shares in Consolidate dold Fields.
Mr C. Dring, the acting financial secretary, said the trustees had decided last month to sell all their shares in companies involved in South Africa, and for the same reasons they had sold their shares in Rio Tinto Zinc.
The Methodist Church in Ireland have also sold their shares in Consolidate Gold Fields. The secretary of the Dublin-based trust said that it was for a mixture of moral and financial reasons.