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Earth Day: A day of celebration and activism

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The Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the nation's largest environmental advocacy groups, has a special package of resources for celebrating Earth Day 2010.

On April 22, 1970, some 20 million people across the country rallied to protest the state of the planet. Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River, a dump for steel mills and other industries, had caught fire. A massive oil spill swamped the coast off Santa Barbara, and concerns about smog, DDT and water pollution were rising. The very first Earth Day was a grassroots revolution that spurred Congress to create America’s core environmental protection laws, and continues to be a day of celebration and activism worldwide.

No way to celebrate Earth Day

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Catholic News Service reports:

Vatican looks to take legal action against carbon-offset company

VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican is looking into taking legal action against a company that failed to create a promised Vatican Climate Forest in Hungary.

The reforestation project was supposed to make Vatican City State the first carbon-neutral country in the world by offsetting its greenhouse-gas emissions.

Perils of Church-Related Pensions

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Today's Wall Street Journal has an important article on how church-related pensions can fail miserably, shut down and leave its participants out in the cold.

"Pensions are protected by federal law, which requires employers to fund the benefits, and insure their pensions with the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., which ensures their pensions will be paid even if the pension plan fails and the employer files for bankruptcy.

But when the law was enacted in the 1970s, churches were exempt unless they opted in. In the 1980s, the IRS definition of "church plan" widened to include almost any organization affiliated with a religious group. That includes recreational groups, hospitals and schools, and publishers like Augsburg Fortress.

Now, a number of church plans are struggling in the wake of investment losses. How many is difficult to say. Church plans don't have to file annual reports with the Internal Revenue Service disclosing their pension obligations, assets and investment managers, among other details.

\"If it does not thrive, neither can we\" -- an Earth Day reflection from Sally McFague

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"The body of God is the entire universe; it is all matter in its myriad fantastic, ancient and modern forms, from quarks to galaxies. More specifically, the body of God needing our attention is planet Earth, a tiny piece of divine embodiment that is our home and garden. In order to care for this garden, we need to know about it; in order to help all creatures who constitute this body flourish, we need to understand how we humans fit into this body.

All understandings of creation and providence rest on assumptions about what the world is like and where humans belong in it... In our evolutionary, ecological view of reality, everthing is interrelated and interdependent. As we have seen, "ecological unity" is both radically individualistic and radically relational. In an organism or body, the whole flourishes only when all of the different parts function well; in fact, the whole is nothing but each and every individual part doing its particular thing successfully. Nothing is more unified than a well-functioning body, but at the same time, nothing relies more on complex, diverse individuality.

How to Diss a Cardinal

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“Seek joy where joy may be found” is one of those rare aphorisms that seems to combine perfectly the human capacity to hope with an earthy sense of the practical. It occurred to me while reading Austen Ivereigh’s post about Cardinal Castrillon-Hoyos’ decision not to preside at a special Mass in the extraordinary form here in Washington this coming weekend.

Ivereigh thought the Paulus Institute, which is sponsoring the Mass, missed an opportunity to clearly say that the change was a result of the recently released information about the cardinal’s complicity in encouraging a French prelate not to report the crime of sex abuse to civil authorities. He thought this would show that the conservative liturgical movement is not mindlessly tied to the kind of clericalism that permitted the cover-up of clerical sex abuse for so many years. I agree.

April 22, Mary, Mother of the Society of Jesus

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"Dear Fathers and Brothers of the Society, today you look with special devotion at the Blessed Virgin Mary, remembering that on 22 April 1541, St Ignatius and his first companions made their solemn vows before the image of Mary in the Basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls."

--from an address delivered by Pope Benedict XVI to the Fathers and Brothers of the Society of Jesus on April 22, 2006, following a Mass celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica by Cardinal Angelo Sodano.

Paulus Institute press release on Castrillon Hoyos bow out

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The following is the text of a press release issued by the Paulus Institute April 21st:

In consultation with His Eminence, Dario Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, The Paulus Institute has agreed to seek another celebrant for the Pontifical Solemn High Mass taking place on April 24th. This action will help maintain the solemnity, reverence and beauty of the Mass.

The Paulus Institute was formed for the propagation of sacred liturgy. The Traditional Latin Mass planned for April 24th honoring Pope Benedict on his five-year inauguration anniversary is a liturgical event much bigger than the individual celebrant. Cardinal Castrillon was approached to celebrate the Mass early in what has been a three-year effort because of his special experience in celebrating this form of Mass and his efforts under Pope John-Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI in encouraging the traditional form of the Mass, full liturgy and sacraments.

Backgrounder: How the first National Shrine Traditional Latin Mass came to be

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The following is taken from a Jan. 24, 2010 press release by the Paulus Institute in Washington DC, which is sponsoring the Mass, commenmorating the fifth anniversary of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI.

The mass is to be celebrated by the Vatican’s Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos, who reportedly has stepped aside following reports he wrote a letter in 2001 praising a French bishop for refusing to hand over to the police a priest who had raped children. Organizers are now reportedly searching for a replacement prelate, one immersed adequately in the Latin language and ceremony.

The mass, set for Saturday, has been marketed as "the First Traditional Mass at the National Shrine’s High Altar in 45 Years." It is to be "commemorated in the Great Upper Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington DC, by a Pontifical Solemn High Mass in the 'Extraordinary form'—commonly known as the 'Traditional Latin Mass' or 'Tridentine Mass'— celebrated by the Vatican prelate Dar'o Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos of Colombia."

Cardinal who praised cover-up bows out of DC Latin Mass

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The main celebrant of a pontifical solemn high Mass slated for Saturday at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception has agreed to step aside from celebrating the mass following the objections of a growing chorus of sex abuse survivors and others, according to a report by UPI.com.

Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos was named in French press reports last week for praising French Bishop Pierre Pican of Bayeux-Lisieux in a 2001 letter for refusing to denounce one of his priests, Fr. Rene Bissey, who went on to be sentenced to 18 years in jail for raping a boy and abusing 10 other young men.

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