FROM Laurie Goodstein
Pope Francis Goes Green, but Will the Flock Follow? Climate change activists have an influential new ally who could bring along more than a billion followers. This week the Vatican held a summit on how environmental crises hurt the poor. A top Vatican official and point person for Pope Francis announced at the summit that increasing use of fossil fuels is disrupting Earth on an "almost unfathomable scale" and cautioned that a "full conversion" of hearts and minds is needed if global warming is to be conquered. The summit is widely seen as a lead-in to the Pope's upcoming encyclical framing the fight against global warming as a moral responsibility -- a first of its kind. Activists hope the Catholic Church will inject the largely secular climate change movement with a spiritual infusion. However, It could put the Pope and the church at odds with conservatives -- Catholics included, some of whom deny the existence of global warming and believe religion has no place in this political battle.
The Vatican, American Nuns and the Politics of Healthcare Reform A leadership group of American nuns supports President Obama's healthcare reform , even though the US Conference of Bishops call it a threat to religious liberty. Now the nuns say they're "stunned" by blistering criticism and threats of de-certification by the Vatican for what it calls "doctrinal problems" and "radical feminist themes." When they went to Rome to confront Cardinal William Levada, the former Bishop of San Francisco, who's leading the the crackdown, he called it a "dialogue with the deaf." But the nuns aren't backing down. Are American Catholics caught in a battle between religious obedience and partisan politics?
The 'Mosque at Ground Zero' and Religious Freedom In Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Sheboygan, Wisconsin and Temecula, California, plans for Islamic mosques have generated heated opposition . But the objections are different from those being raised in lower Manhattan, where a mosque is planned as part of a larger Islamic center two blocks from Ground Zero.
The 'Mosque at Ground Zero' and Religious Freedom The furor over what's called "the mosque" near Ground Zero centers on part of a $100 million project called Cordoba House . Opponents, including some high-profile Christian and Jewish groups, call it "insensitive" to the families of people who died on September 11. Elsewhere in the country, opposition to new mosques began with concerns about traffic and parking, but lately it's focused on the Muslim religion itself. Islam has been called a "cult" that encourages terrorist bombers and is accused of secret plans to bring Shariah law to America. That's raised concerns about the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom. Is a basic American principle at risk at a time of uncertainty over economics and immigration?
Mixed Messages from US diplomats on the new hard line on Syria Since President Trump's surprise retaliation against Syria's use of chemical weapons, Bashar al-Assad has used the same airport to launch conventional attacks on his own people. It's not clear what the US, its allies — or Vladimir Putin's Russia -- plan to do now.
Trump's ethical conflicts pile up as transparency diminishes President Trump's refusal to reveal his income tax returns is just one example of a lack of transparency that could be hiding conflicts of interest. Other conflicts are already obvious from his appointments. And he's being sued for using his job to increase his profits.
Is Venezuela becoming a dictatorship? Venezuela may have the world's largest oil reserves, but it's a nation in trouble… economically and politically. Is a populist promise to rescue democracy turning out to be a prelude to dictatorship?