- Feb 21, 2020
Lebanon’s a small place, home to just over six million people, but it’s a living laboratory experiment for three of the world’s mega-challenges today: Pluralism, with perhaps the most resilient and certainly most nationally influential Christian population in the Middle East; Christian/Muslim relations, with the good, the bad, and even the surreal; and the refugee crisis, with more new arrivals per capita than any place on earth.
At an Oct. 3-6 summit at Rome’s Gregorian University, with the support of the Vatican, on efforts to keep children safe in the digital world, there’s been a lot of talk about the massiveness of the challenges. In that context, speakers from New Hampshire have provided a badly-needed dose of hope, insisting that data show smartly-crafted and long-term programs to help children actually do make a difference.
Look around at the lineup at an Oct. 3-6 summit at Rome’s Gregorian University on “Child Dignity in the Digital World,” and it’s a host of experts from the biggest outfits in their various fields — Harvard, Interpol, Facebook, UNICEF, Microsoft, and so on. It’s the cream of the crop, and it’s another illustration of the Vatican’s unique power to convene, since basically nobody can say no to an invite from the pope.
A recent independence vote in Kurdistan has created the threat of new conflict in northern Iraq, and raised questions about whether this is the right time to be trying to rebuild the Christian presence in the Nineveh Plains. Ask Middle East Christians that question, however, and they’ll reply, ‘When exactly would the right time be?’
In the last few days, Pope Francis has faced three remarkable accusations — one of suffering from narcissistic personality disorder, another of heresy, and a third of dropping the ball on financial reform of the Vatican. In trying to sort through it all, one towering problem is that in an environment defined by hysteria, separating legitimate criticism from the same-old, same-old is increasingly difficult.
At the moment, the Vatican finds itself facing two less-than-edifying storylines, one involving a priest in the papal embassy in Washington, D.C., suspected of possible violations of child pornography laws, and the other featuring a Vatican trial for financial misappropriation against former officials of a papally-sponsored pediatric hospital. Here are a few resources for thinking intelligently about each.