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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.

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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.

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.

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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.