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Meet the pope’s astronomer, who says he’d baptize an alien if given the chance

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With Christmas just around the corner, Br. Guy Consolmagno gets a lot of questions this time of year about the star of Bethlehem that led the Magi to Jesus in the manger.

Consolmagno is an astronomer -- a planetary scientist for the Vatican observatory, in fact -- who specializes in asteroids and meteorites, the very sort that may well have been the famous “star” described in the Gospel of Matthew.

Celtic retreat centers on rebirth, compassion

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John Philip Newell, the Celtic spirituality scholar and interspirituality disciple, served up a pre-Thanksgiving spiritual banquet in mid-November here at First Community Church.

Newell, author of 15 books including Praying with the Earth and his latest The Rebirthing of God: Dreaming the Way Forward, was the latest presenter in this local United Church of Christ congregation’s 25-year-old ongoing Spiritual Searcher series. The program seeks to “unite mind, heart and body in the spiritual quest.”

Panel dissects ‘depressing’ climate change survey

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A survey released at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature Nov. 22-25 here reveals that people of faith do not consider climate change the most important issue facing the United States today nor do they believe they will be personally harmed by its impact. But they do see it as a crisis demanding governmental action now rather than later.

The survey, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) in partnership with the American Academy of Religion, involved telephone interviews with more than 3,000 people.

We’re awestruck about Earth, unsure about global warming

But all that spiritual stargazing makes no difference in views about the facts of climate change and global warming, a new survey finds.

Just 5 percent of Americans thought climate change was the most important issue in the U.S. today. And religion was a major dividing point on how much -- or how little -- they think it’s a matter of concern, according to a new survey by the Public Religion Research Institute.

Pope: Europe 'always been in the vanguard' of ecological efforts

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In an address Tuesday before the European Parliament, Pope Francis spent a portion of his remarks addressing ecology, reminding the leaders of the continent's historical prominence in environmental protection and preservation. 

The speech focused on the theme of human dignity and human rights, and through that framework Francis addressed various issues, including the environment.

This Thanksgiving, taking two bites of everything

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Thanksgiving is supposed to be about the groaning table, laden with fats and sweets: first the fats, then the sweets, sprinkled with a few vegetables as the “sides.” 

Some argue that it is more about the leftovers, the leftover fats and sweets and sides and vegetables. Either way you define it -- as the original groan or the secondary groan -- Thanksgiving is a holiday losing its way, at least for me. 

Vatican mulling interfaith climate summit

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The Vatican is considering calling a meeting of religious leaders to bring awareness to the current state of the climate and social inequalities resulting from a warming, technologizing planet, ahead of two key United Nations meetings on climate and sustainability set for 2015. 

The news came toward the end of a speech by Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, who in London Nov. 10 gave the annual Pope Paul VI lecture for the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) -- the official Catholic aid agency for England and Wales.

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