Wednesday, April 15, 2009

As Earth Day approaches, many in the faith community are working with the Earth Day Network and other eco-organizations to “honor God’s creation” in religious services this weekend.

“We have had an overwhelmingly positive response again to our outreach to thousands of Catholic priests asking them to deliver a sermon on Earth Day, Sunday, April 19th on climate change and equitable sustainability,” says Susan Bass, senior vice president of programs and operations for the Earth Day Network, also known as EDN.

Since 2007, the EDN has connected with thousands of parishes, asking ministers to include pro-Earth messages in their sermons on the Sunday before Earth Day.

“All across the country, parishes will be taking action to protect the Earth, from recycling batteries to incorporating climate change into their religious education programs,” Ms. Bass explains.

This Sunday, Ms. Bass expects some 10,000 Catholic churches to participate and “many more from different denominations independently [to] check our Web site and use our resources.”

Dan Misleh, a Catholic layman who is launching the Web site catholicclimate on Earth Day, April 22, says, “Many Catholics are not aware of the long engagement of the church in stewardship of the Earth. It goes back to Genesis and the teachings of St. Francis, the patron saint of ecology. We are trying to blend ancient traditions and new teachings of the recent Holy Fathers to get Catholics to think more deeply and to see these teachings in a new light.”

As part of what he calls the Catholic Climate Covenant, Mr. Misleh has sent a “resource packet” to every Catholic church and grade school in the country with resources to educate and encourage Catholics to “assess their carbon footprint and act on it.”

On the Mall

After services Sunday, head down to the Mall, where EDN and Green Apple Festival are presenting Earth Day on the Mall 2009. Thousands are expected to hear stump speeches by environmental A-listers, including Chevy Chase and Matthew Modine, and local politicos such as Rep. Edward J. Markey, Massachusetts Democrat, on renewable energy, green jobs and responsible consumption.

The entertainment lineup includes the Flaming Lips, Moe, Los Lobos and DJ Spooky.

Event organizers say 50 nonprofits and other agencies will participate in an Eco Roadshow, which will feature educational displays on environmental issues.

The event is free; for information, visit

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