Good morning, Pope Benedict XVI has arrived in the United States for his first visit as leader of the Catholic Church and received an unprecedented presidential greeting at the airport. He started his six-day tour by telling the media that the sexual abuse scandal involving Catholic clergy in the US caused him shame, but the abuse scandal is only one of several controversial issues likely to come up during Benedict’s trip.
So what to discuss, then? Do we take a broad view and ask if religous leaders should be involved in politics? Do they have a moral obligation to promote the tenets of their faith? Are politicians seeking votes too eager to bring religious leaders into the political sphere?
Or should we focus on the Pope himself? How’s he done since his election in April 2005? Are his comments on the abuse scandal enough? What should his world role be?
There are more Chinese in the world than Catholics, so perhaps we should return to the issues surrounding the Beijing Olympics instead of talking about the Pope. The EU Trade Commisioner, Peter Mandelson, has warned against confronting China over Tibet. He says “direct confrontation” with China over Tibet, such as a trade boycott, would only hurt the interests of ordinary European and Chinese citizens. Protests must be balanced against the need to engage with a country going through “unprecedented” political change, he said. Is he right to urge caution? Is that the way to change China?
And is world opinion hardening against politicising the Olympics? Chinese state news agency Xinhua lists politicians who have recently expressed support for the Beijing Games. Will it be business as usual by the time the Games get going?
And there is the world food crisis, which Ros posted about yesterday. How can the world deal with the rising price of food?
Sticking with food – sort of – and conservative French legislators are moving towards a pioneering law that would target any means of mass communication — including magazines and Web sites — that promote eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia with punishments of up to three years in prison and more than $70,000 in fines. A worthy battle or none of their business? How does the media affect people’s body-image?
On Tuesday in Washington, America’s top military officer said Iran is likely to be the most important challenge for the United States over the next five years and that a way should be found to open a dialogue with Tehran. Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Iran “is at the heart of a great deal of discontent and disruption and instability” in the Middle East. Should America be focusing more on Iran to solve problems in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere? Can dialogue work with Tehran? Do his comments undermine President Bush?
And finally, would you steal a can of Coke? Probably, but you wouldn’t take a dollar bill, according to research by Dan Ariely at MIT. He studies of behavioral economics at MIT’s Media Lab and Sloan School of Management, and his findings have me wondering “what keep us honest?” Do you take things that don’t belong to you? Is it OK to “borrow” some milk from the fridge at work? Or to bump up a test score when no one will know? Have a read and tell me what you think.