THE FUTURE OF RADICAL ISLAM
As we have just marked the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq, it seems appropriate to ponder the strength of radical Islam. This commentary from The New York Times does just that -- and with pretty clear eyes, I think. I'm not quite as pessimistic as this writer, but close.
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THE POPE IS COMING, THE POPE IS COMING
I mentioned here recently that if you want to follow preparations for Pope Benedict XVI's April visit to the United States, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is offering this Web site.
But because a papal visit is both rare and potentially important for many reasons, I thought you also might enjoy this preparation piece about the trip by the best Vatican analyst around, John L. Allen Jr. of the National Catholic Reporter.
John calls it a one-stop guide to the trip, and, indeed, it is long and comprehensive. When you combine it with the bishops' site, I think you'll pretty much be up to speed on what you need to know.
Because I'm not Catholic, some of the pope's trip will interest me only for journalistic reasons, not for reasons that might apply to adherents. But other parts of the trip should engage all of us, especially the pope's address to the United Nations.
There, as John Allen notes, he'll be speaking to the entire world, and in some sense his job, given the bully pulpit he'll have, will be to represent all people of faith and to speak a clear and forceful word on behalf of faith and the universal values the great religions share.
Given this pope's occasional tone-deafness about how his words will be perceived by others outside the church, I hope someone with international sensitivities is vetting his speech so later he doesn't have to give either an apology or a "what I really meant was" response.
To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here.