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    Indiana's environment is cleaner than it's been in our lifetimes. But such substantial progress here and in other parts of the country is not enough for the Environmental Protection Agency.
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    It didn't take them long to figure out a way to get around our “no” vote on the referendum, did it? They are going to appoint a committee, just like Gov.

Letters to the editor

Pope Francis inherits house needing repair

Francis of Assisi (1181/1182-1226) was praying in the ruined chapel of San Damiano. He claimed to have heard a call to “go and repair my house, which you see is falling down.” Now another Francis – this time Pope Francis – has received a call to “repair my house (the church) which you see is falling down.” There is much work to be done. Let us pray that Pope Francis is the one who can do it with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.


Conclave stark reminder of waning relevance

As I watched the pageantry, color, ancient Latin prayers and melodic Gregorian chants of the opening of the papal conclave in the magnificent Sistine Chapel, I was hypnotized and overwhelmed by its majestic environment and spirit.

Then I realized the underlying reality of this dramatic scene. Approximately 110 male cardinals, decked out in long flowing red habits, lacy surplices and three-cornered hats, were reminiscent of a monarchical court of several centuries ago. Noticeably, there were no women, despite the fact that the majority of Roman Catholics in the world are women.

It also reminded me that the Catholic Church is the last true monarchy with a ruler, the pope, possessing the absolute divine right of kings. This stark, majestic scene of the opening of the papal conclave, reminds me that the Catholic Church continues to be a completely male, patriarchal, misogynist and sexist hierarchical structure.

This underlying reality of the papal conclave should remind us of the dire need for this male hierarchical institution to begin to relate to the new realities of this third millennial age. This new dawning age is evolving into an uncertain future while the Catholic Church returns to the spirit and ways of the long dead age of the 1500s and the Council of Trent.

The Rev. EDWARD RUETZ South Bend

Neutering feral cats proven form of control

To Scott Shady (“Focus on feral cats misdirected,” March 14): It seems you care deeply about cats unfortunate enough to be born without indoor homes, and I applaud your concern. There is more to the story, though.

Since many more cats are born each day than could possibly be trapped and euthanized, the population continues to increase steadily. When a cat is taken out of the area it has been living in, other cats just move in and the process continues. By leaving sterilized cats in their current location, new unsterilized cats are kept out by the very territorial “home team.” Since the neutered ferals are not reproducing, the long-term effect is to break the cycle.

We have spent more than 40 years (in our area) practicing trap and kill with an ever-increasing outdoor cat population. Trap-neuter-return has been successful and is practiced in most forward-thinking areas.

I would, of course, encourage anyone who sees a cat suffering from sickness or injury to try to trap it and either get it help or have it euthanized for its own sake.

Introducing new ideas is often difficult and met with opposition from both feline proponents and opponents. But keeping an open mind and researching the issues can go a long way in helping the population you so obviously care for.

MADELEINE LAIRD Executive director, HOPE for Animals

March Madness hits public school classrooms

It’s time for March Madness in Indiana. I refer not to basketball but to our lawmakers’ debilitation of public schools through high-stakes testing which students began this month.

Hoosier lawmakers now try to define successful schools in a seemingly simple concept: score high on the test. These lawmakers have created a backward system that focuses on scores, not students. Potent teachers are handcuffed and student learning suffers.

Rationalization such as this leads teachers to be instructed to drill the standards and forget the unique needs of their students. Lawmakers seem willfully ignorant to a simple truth: a high-stakes testing environment means what is tested is what is taught.

It gets worse.

The State Board of Education has instituted the Common Core standards. The Common Core standards would place even heavier emphasis on high-stakes testing and at greater cost to our state. Hoosiers, urge state lawmakers to opt out of the Common Core. This is one hysteria we want to miss.


Tea party types wary of Constitution rewrite

Freedom needs to be protected but how looms large on the horizon today. Much is being said about the need to rewrite the Constitution. Even low-information voters have to admit that the Constitution hasn’t truly been followed for years. As a result, government has gotten bigger with no end in sight.

What are the options for controlling this? Tea party types say: “Just follow the Constitution.” But the legislators say: “No, can’t do that – progressives won’t like me and will not vote for me next time.”

What is to be done and – more importantly – how it is to be done is vital as the status quo is horrible. Enter state legislators such as Sen. David Long. Tea party types do not support the call for an Article V Amendment Convention, even in these dire times. It is the strong belief of tea party types that this will result in a runaway convention trashing the Constitution and rewriting it according to the framework already set in place by progressives and ready to be implemented.

I would suggest our friend from Warren (Michael Driscoll, “Constitutional convention plan panders to tea party interests,” March 11) educate himself before slinging slanderous remarks about groups of people he has no idea who or what we are, judging by his letter.


Ryan, Stutzman shielded from real-world issues

While the world is cheering a new pope, a humble man in touch with the poverty of the world, we have Rep. Paul Ryan with his new budget. The budget gives more tax breaks to the rich, takes health care away from the poor (repealing Obamacare) and shifts Medicaid and most programs to the states, which are already strapped for cash. He wants to make Medicare a voucher program.

Rep. Martin Stutzman, as usual, is going along with the Republican line, saying: “This is a blueprint for a responsible balanced budget.”

I wish some of these representatives could really be concerned about the country, could walk in the shoes of people who live on minimum pay, people who have to make sure any medical expense is covered by Medicare or they don’t go to the doctor. Go to the grocery store sometime, watch people as they shop and compare every grocery item they buy, putting back things if it makes their bill more than the money they have. But that is too much to hope for; they live in their own rich little world.


Too much at stake to refuse Medicaid

From the federal fiscal cliff discussions to the issue of state-level Medicaid expansion, ideological standoffs continue to be an obstacle to reasonable dialogue and effective policy-making.

No matter your political stance on the Affordable Care Act, it is now law.

Indiana has the opportunity to join 26 other states in accepting the federal dollars already designated to adequately fund Medicaid and increase access to affordable health care. Under current Indiana law, non-disabled, non-pregnant, childless adults younger than 65 cannot get Medicaid, no matter how poor they are. Increased access to health care for everyone ensures a healthier, happier, more productive Indiana.

Too much is at stake for Hoosiers to be left behind: 30,000 jobs, $108 million in new state and local tax revenue per year, and the health and lives of an estimated 450,000 hard-working Hoosiers.

Indiana should join other states and a network of support in expanding and improving Medicaid.

LINDSAY HELMBOCK Citizens Action Coalition

Sensitivity to Indians is needed here, too

I appreciated the prominence of the article “Time to retire the Redskins name (March 15),” and I continue to hope that we will address this issue in Fort Wayne.

It’s embarrassing when Native American friends come to Fort Wayne and drive past North Side High school, where they see an Indian chief stereotype, or pick up a newspaper to see a racial slur in a sports headline.

Even if North Side and the Fort Wayne Community Schools board do not deem it worth the effort to change the name “Redskins,” Journal Gazette sportswriters and headline writers could agree not to use the term. Please consider taking that small step.

Then, if North Side fans wants to see their mascot named in the newspaper, they can encourage the school board to change the mascot name to something that will not insult anyone.