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"Earth Day Mass" at St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Diocese of San Bernardino, CAYouTube / Screenshot

BEAUMONT, California (LifeSiteNews) — A Catholic church in California recently held an “Earth Day Mass” in which homage was given to inanimate objects and a prayer of pagan Native American origins was recited.

California’s Diocese of San Bernardino shared in its diocesan news outlet Inland Catholic Byte that its “first-ever diocesan Earth Day Mass,” held at St. Kateri Tekakwitha parish and said by Bishop Alberto Rojas, was preceded by a “Prayer of the Four Directions,” a traditional Native American practice in which the four cardinal directions, North, South, East, and West, are invoked during sacred ceremonies. 

During the enactment of the “prayer,” parish youth processed down the main aisle of the church carrying symbols representing elements of creation, including “Mother Earth,” water, wind, trees, animals, fish, birds, the sun, the moon, the stars, so-called “Enlightened Masters,” and the Holy Spirit, before placing the symbolic objects before the altar.

The language used during this procession and “prayer” gave homage to these inanimate aspects of creation – as if the church held pagan animistic beliefs – as speakers at the church podium gave “thanks” to the objects. 

“We send our voices to give thanks to the trees,” said one laywoman as a girl brought a tree before the altar.

Most, if not all, Native American religions incorporated a form of animism, according to which non-human animate and inanimate objects have souls and are treated as equals to humans.

READ: Pope Francis hosts Coptic Patriarch at Vatican, approves schismatic liturgy in papal basilica

Despite its pagan origins, a version of the Prayer to the Four Directions is promoted by the Catholic Tekakwitha Conference. As shared by a Native American website, the prayer states, “Man did not create the web of life, but he is a strand in it. Whatever man does to the web, he does to himself.” The site also shares a prayer to “Mother Earth,” among other traditional Native American prayers.

The pastor of the church, Rev. Dennis Legaspi, closed the procession with a Mohawk Prayer to the “Great Spirit, creator of all things.”

Father Al Utzig, pastor of St. Mary, Fontana, and a member of the Diocesan Laudato Si Committee, appeared to question in his homily the Scriptural teaching that human beings have been given dominion over the earth and all of its creatures.

“We humans say we’re in charge. We will use everything for our good … having no idea of what we’re doing. This is one of the great difficulties of our life today,” cautioned Fr. Utzig.

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We ask you to join us in thanking this faithful shepherd for his years of loving service to Christ and His Church. 

Bishop Thomas Tobin of the Diocese of Providence, RI, known for his outspoken defense of the Church’s moral teachings on the sanctity of life, marriage, and human sexuality, has just resigned upon reaching the age of 75 on April 1.

SIGN: Thank you Bishop Tobin for answering God's call to serve His Church

Here is our message to Bishop Tobin which you can sign: 

In a statement to the diocese on the occasion of his resignation, Bishop Tobin thanked the faithful and clergy of Providence for their support over the years, encouraging them to remain steadfast in the faith. “I urge all the members of the church to remain steadfast in your faith, to be proud of the good work you are doing, and to be determined to carry on the work that Jesus has entrusted to you,” Tobin said. 

As bishop, Tobin consistently raised his voice to clearly reiterate the perennial teachings of the Church that the life of the unborn is sacred, marriage is a lifelong union between one man and one woman, and the innocence of children must be protected in society.

He has also defended traditional Catholics who wish to worship according to the Church’s ancient liturgy in the Tridentine Latin Mass. 

Unafraid to hold to account so-called “Catholic” politicians who aggressively promote abortion and oppose the protection of the lives of the unborn, in 2019 Tobin excoriated Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed, who says he is Catholic but voted against the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Act, designed to protect children born alive during botched abortions from being left to die.   

In the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election, Tobin called out the contradiction between a politician calling himself Catholic and yet rejecting Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life. In a tweet sent out on May 7, 2020, Tobin said one cannot be an “authentic” Catholic and hold a pro-abortion position. 

“Just saw a headline in a Catholic newspaper with the phrase ‘pro-abortion Catholic.’ Sorry. That’s a contradiction in terms. You can’t be a Catholic, at least not an authentic one, and be ‘pro-abortion.’ Or ‘pro-choice.’ It’s the same thing,” the bishop said

SIGN: Thank you Bishop Tobin for answering God's call to serve His Church

Several months later Tobin again sparked a heated Twitter debate over what constitutes a Catholic when he sarcastically implied that then-presidential candidate Joe Biden isn’t one. The outspoken bishop was hammered on Twitter with ad hominem attacks after he posted the following:  

Biden-Harris. First time in a while that the Democratic ticket hasn’t had a Catholic on it. Sad. 

— Bishop Thomas Tobin (@ThomasJTobin1) August 11, 2020 

Tobin doubled down on his criticisms of President Biden’s zeal for abortion in 2022, when he stated that he could not be “both a devout Catholic and a pro-abortion zealot”: 

President Biden cannot be both a devout Catholic and a pro-abortion zealot. The two are mutually exclusive. He is a poor, lost and confused soul. Truly, we need to pray for him, everyday. 

— Bishop Thomas Tobin (@ThomasJTobin1) September 23, 2022 

Tobin’s courageous defense of the Church’s moral teachings was not limited, however, to standing up against the prominent pro-abortion advocates of the Left. He also earned their hatred with his public stance against LGBT ideology and intimidation. 

On June 1, 2019, to mark the beginning of so-called “pride month”, the Rhode Island bishop tweeted that Catholics should not take part in “pride” events due to their conflict with the Catholic faith, making special note of the danger to children: 

A reminder that Catholics should not support or attend LGBTQ “Pride Month” events held in June. They promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Catholic faith and morals. They are especially harmful for children. 

— Bishop Thomas Tobin (@ThomasJTobin1) June 1, 2019 

The public stance made the bishop the target of high-volume vitriol from LGBT adherents and supporters, who moved swiftly to squash the Catholic shepherd’s advisory to his flock to remain faithful to “Catholic faith and morals,” demonstrating the resolve of anti-Catholic forces to silence Church teaching. 

Several days later, Tobin issued the following statement, declaring it his obligation as a bishop to preach the truth of Christ “even on very difficult and sensitive issues”, affirming that he would continue to do so. He stated, “As a Catholic Bishop, however, my obligation before God is to lead the faithful entrusted to my care and to teach the faith, clearly and compassionately, even on very difficult and sensitive issues.  That is what I have always tried to do – on a variety of issues – and I will continue doing so as contemporary issues arise.” 

SIGN: Thank you Bishop Tobin for answering God's call to serve His Church

Ever sensitive to the needs of the flock entrusted to this care, Tobin also supported those Catholics devoted to the ancient liturgy in the Traditional Latin Mass. In January 2022, during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, he encouraged “respect and support” for “members of our own Church who are devoted to [the] TLM,” affirming their fidelity to the Church, a notable public defense in the face of attacks from authorities in Rome, such as Cardinal Roche, who has dubbed those who love the ancient Mass “more Protestant than Catholic.”  

In contrast, Bishop Tobin wrote: 

In this Week of Prayer for #ChristianUnity, let’s also work to safeguard and promote “Catholic Unity.” In particular, let’s resolve to respect and support members of our own Church who are devoted to TLM. They are faithful Catholics who greatly love the Lord and his Church. 

— Bishop Thomas Tobin (@ThomasJTobin1) January 18, 2022 

Again, earlier this year, Tobin criticized the increased ostracization of traditional Catholics by Rome in a tweet that contrasted the heavy-handedness of the Vatican’s restrictions with the Pope’s call for accompaniment and listening. The prelate wrote,  

The way the Vatican is dealing with the Traditional Latin Mass does not seem to me to be the “style of God.” Pope Francis himself has emphasized that those who are attached to the TLM should be “accompanied listened to, and given time.” 

— Bishop Thomas Tobin (@ThomasJTobin1) February 21, 2023 

With the courageous Bishop of Providence now retiring, the sentiments of Catholics grateful for his defense of life, family, and faith can perhaps not be put better than what was stated by those same Catholics several years ago: “Your clear and compassionate teaching gives hope to Catholics and Christians everywhere.”  

In the words of Bishop Strickland, “Thanks for speaking up Bishop Tobin….let us be mighty loving messengers of truth and light in Jesus Christ.” 

SIGN: Thank you Bishop Tobin for answering God's call to serve His Church


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Utzig cited Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si, in which “he speaks about integral ecology, which says everything is connected, and you are not the center. I am not the center.”

In Genesis 1:26, God says, “Let us make man to our image and likeness:  let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth. 

Utzig went on in his homily to decry the harmful effect our lifestyles and consumption habits have on nature.

As they left Mass, attendees were given a packet of flower seeds and a card with 10 tips to reduce their carbon footprint.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha is continuing to incorporate pagan-inspired activities, holding an “Aztec dance” for which it is inviting volunteers ages nine and older, as its most recent bulletin announced.

READ: Official draft of new Mayan rite of Mass confirms elements of ancient pagan worship, lay ‘principals’

The church has a history of heterodox activities, having hosted an LGBT-themed “ministry” titled “Ministry with Families & Friends of LGBT.” In December, the church required parishioners to sign waivers before receiving Holy Communion kneeling – a move that may violate Church law.

The parish’s page hosted on the diocesan website states that it “looks to creating new traditions as a united parish community.”

The bishop of the San Bernardino diocese is Alberto Rojas, one of several U.S. prelates who signed a statement last year organized by the Tyler Clementi Foundation, another pro-LGBT activist group, telling homosexual youth that “God is on your side.” Rojas withdrew the faculties of a priest in his diocese who criticized him for signing the statement.