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Autumn's big soft black-dotted fluttering wings


On a walk yesterday at this city's nature center, the day before this one that marks the turning of the seasons, I stopped to pick up some of the first colorful leaves that had fallen to the sidewalk, then a monarch butterfly fluttered past me headed south, while a honeybee sluggishly toured through a blooming patch of goldenrod and asters, the wildflowers of fall in the Midwest.

The big black-and-orange monarchs buck the butterfly trend. Most other species of butterfly have settled down already for the winter, slumbering in the cocoon or going about disguised as caterpillars.

The monarch, though, migrates as many bird species do. They follow regular migration routes down from the North, along major river valleys, along coastlines. Some of them travel over 2,000 miles ending in southern Mexico.

No one is sure why these butterflies migrate, or how they navigate. All we know is that they do so by the millions and that they come back to their summer haunts every spring. Some are survivors of the previous year's journey; others -- probably most -- are a new generation hatched in the far south.

ëHousing is a Human Right,' Massachusetts Bishops Declare


Massachusetts, particularly but not exclusively the high-priced Boston area, has long been a leader in developing affordable housing nestled within market-rate housing developments.

One reason for this leadership is a 40-year-old state law – which includes an “inclusionary zoning ordinance” -- that provides developers with incentives (the ability to build more market-rate housing than zoning might otherwise permit) in return for placing “affordable housing” within the same neighborhood. The statute is now under attack from statewide NIMBY’s --the “Not in my Backyard” contingent. The law, however, is a model that has been emulated in communities throughout the nation, particularly in areas where housing is expensive (that way the developers actually make a modest profit on the affordable units, providing them an incentive to support a program this generally conservative constituency might not necessarily endorse).

\"The Sexual Person\"


I was sad, but not surprised, to read of the bishops' condemnation of a book about sexuality by two Creighton theology professors. I worked with one of the authors, Michael Lawler, on a piece for U.S. Catholic magazine in which he and another researcher argued that not all premarital sex was morally wrong and suggested a ritual for couples moving toward marriage.

We editors (I used to be managing editor there) knew it was a touchy topic but were convinced that the authors were responsible in their assertions. Next came the usual angry letters from organized, conservative Catholic groups denouncing the article and one from then- Archbishop Elden Curtiss, who eventually cut ties with Creighton University’s Center for Marriage and Family.

National survey shows local governments slowly adopting sustainability initiatives


Washington, DC — A new survey released today by ICMA, the International City/County Management Association, shows that while communities across the nation are increasingly conscious of sustainability issues, many localities are still at the beginning stages of turning green-focused priorities into concrete actions related to sustainability and energy conservation.

As the first national survey to establish benchmarks for sustainability initiatives in local government, the Sustainability Survey 2010 features the responses of 2,176 local governments from throughout the nation.

“While there is near shared agreement in the desire to create more sustainable communities, putting goals into action is a larger challenge,” suggests Tad McGalliard, ICMA’s Director of Sustainability. “This survey helps ICMA better understand where the issues are in implementing sustainability as a strategic priority and certainly will guide us as we create new knowledge resources, partnerships, and other support for local governments.”

The survey findings include the following notable results:

Health care reform goes in effect today: Go thank a nun!


Thanks to the recent health care reform, starting today insurance companies can no longer put lifetime “caps” on coverage or deny children coverage if they have pre-existing conditions. And young people can remain on their parents’ policies up to age 26 -- during that time of life when they may find it hard to get coverage on their own.

Although the major provisions of the new law do not take effect until 2014, these are important, tangible steps toward greater justice in our national health care system.

As we recall the rancorous debate over this law -- especially the opposition of the U.S. Catholic Bishops and the courageous stance of the women religious, led by NETWORK and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, in favor of the law (a stance that many observers believe made the difference for passage) -- a lot of people can be thankful for nuns today!

In fact, Democratic politicians might learn something from all this. They should stop running away from what they passed and begin to tout its benefits.

U. S. pledge for new cookstoves good news for the forests and climate


Today Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to announce a $50 million pledge of seed money, distributed over five years, to help the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves provide 100 million clean-burning biomass cookstoves by 2020 to people in Africa, Asia and South America.

For more information, see the Treehugger Web story.

Green your autumn


Cooler temperatures bring fallen leaves, and fallen leaves offer the chance to create nutrient-rich soil that will eventually help your spring garden or front and back yard trees bloom. Instead of cramming raked leaves into plastic bags that end up in landfills, use them to begin a compost pile. For information on how to do this, see the Sierra Club's The Green Life Web page.

Creighton U professors' book on sex 'in serious error' bishops find


The U.S. bishops' Committee on Doctrine has issued a 24-page critique of the 2008 book titled The Sexual Person: Toward a Renewed Catholic Anthropology, by theologians Michael G. Lawler and Todd A. Salzman, both faculty members at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb.

The committee said the authors' methodology "marks a radical departure from the Catholic theological tradition," leading to "a whole range of conclusions that are contrary to Catholic teaching."


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In This Issue

March 27-April 9, 2015


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