VATICAN CITY (RNS) — Big oil companies in the United States and Europe were forced to come to terms with their role in climate change last month after shareholders, including large mutual funds and private equity firms, pressured the companies to shift their long-criticized environmental policies.

The shareholder rebellions at Chevron and Exxon made front-page news; what has been less reported is how Catholic groups, from the Vatican to orders of nuns to Catholic youth organizations, played a key role in holding Big Oil accountable, influenced by Pope Francis’ advocacy for justice and the environment.

In addition, a Dutch court ruled last month that Royal Dutch Shell, the world’s second-largest energy company, will have to reduce greenhouse emissions by 45% by 2030, a far more ambitious goal than the company previously outlined.

In all three cases, the oil giants found themselves cornered by climate activists, many of whom are driven by their faith.