TIME ted cruz

Controversial Award Moved From Ted Cruz Event in Arkansas

Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) shakes hands with supporters as he emerges from the Cruz campaign bus for a rally in a field behind Sprayberry's BBQ in Newnan, Ga., on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2015.
Bill Clark—CQ-Roll Call,Inc. Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) shakes hands with supporters as he emerges from the Cruz campaign bus for a rally in a field behind Sprayberry's BBQ in Newnan, Ga., on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2015.

A Republican lawmaker in Arkansas will no longer be given a “Power of Courage” award at an event headlined by presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz Wednesday after a controversy arose because he re-homed two adopted girls to a man now serving a 40-year sentence for crimes against children.

State representative Justin Harris, also the owner and founder of Growing God’s Kingdom Preschool, and his wife adopted two girls in 2013 but then gave them to another family, where one of the children was sexually abused. The case has been investigated by the Arkansas Times, which first reported the re-homing in March.

Harris, the Times reported, “said that the girls, then ages 3 and 5, were dangerously violent and had posed a threat to his biological sons.” The Times‘ report also says that “the legislator and his wife believed their adopted daughters were demonically possessed and enacted harsh punitive measures within their home in an attempt to combat this supposed supernatural influence.”

The award is one of twelve Courage Awards that the Family Council is presenting this summer, each going to a lawmaker who sponsored a bill that the group championed during the recent legislative session. Harris will receive an award for legislation to tighten parental consent laws for minors who seek an abortion.

Harris will still receive the award but not at the event Cruz will attend. “We will present the awards at a venue chosen by the recipients at a later date,” says Jerry Cox, president of the Family Council Action Committee, the nonprofit advocacy group presenting the award. “The organizers at the event asked us if we would not present the awards at the event. They felt that they did not want any necessary distractions.”

Cox says the decision to move the award came after it began to be connected with re-homing story. “The two don’t have anything to do with each other,” Cox says.

The Family Council is not related to the similarly named Family Research Council in Washington, D.C., led by Tony Perkins and until recently Josh Duggar, but Cox described them as “fellow travelers on the same road.” Cox’s Family Council focuses on issue advocacy and does not endorse political candidates.

TIME jeb bush

Hillary Clinton Criticizes Jeb Bush Remarks on Women’s Health

Republican presidential candidate and former Florida governor Jeb Bush speaks to workers at Thumbtack on July 16, 2015 in San Francisco, California.
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Republican presidential candidate and former Florida governor Jeb Bush speaks to workers at Thumbtack on July 16, 2015 in San Francisco, California.

He later said he misspoke

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush was trying to defuse Democratic criticism of defunding Planned Parenthood Tuesday when he accidentally opened up a new line of attack.

During an interview at a conference of Southern Baptists, Bush called for defunding Planned Parenthood, then tried to counter the expected Democratic arguments against it by suggesting the money could be redirected to other community health organizations.

But mid-thought, he stopped to muse that the federal government might not need to spend as much as it does.

“The argument against this is … it is a war on women and you are attacking women’s health issues,” he said. “You could take dollar for dollar—although I’m not sure we need a half a billion dollars for women’s health issues—but if you took dollar for dollar, there are many extraordinarily fine organizations, community health organizations that exist.”

That parenthetical thought bounced around on Twitter, where Clinton responded.

Some conservatives also criticized Bush for giving Democrats an easy opening.

On Monday, Senate Democrats blocked a Republican proposal to defund Planned Parenthood, although some GOP senators have vowed to find other ways to strip the organization of the more than $500 million in federal funding it receives to help run around 700 health clinics. Some have even suggested a government shutdown to force the issue.

Bush did not say whether he’d back a shutdown, instead saying he prefers “regular order.”

“I don’t know how many times we have had government shutdowns and budgets not passed,” he said. “If I am president we are going to respect the Constitution and get back to regular order way where democracy works again, where you submit a budget and you work with Congress, you pass a budget, and in that budget I can promise you there will not be $500 million going to Planned Parenthood.”

The debate has come after a series of undercover videos released by a group of anti-abortion activists showed Planned Parenthood officials and others who work with the organization discussing fetal tissue donation. Republicans argue that the videos show the organization breaking federal law, while Planned Parenthood says they are deceptively edited and merely show officials discussing legally permissible reimbursements for minor costs.

The Bush campaign issued a clarification early Tuesday evening which said that he “misspoke” and that he supports fully funding the “countless community health centers, rural clinics and other women’s health organizations” that serve low-income women.

“I was referring to the hard-to-fathom $500 million in federal funding that goes to Planned Parenthood – an organization that was callously participating in the unthinkable practice of selling fetal organs,” Bush said in the statement.

TIME 2016 Election

Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio Face an Evangelical Test

2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush addresses central Florida pastors at a meet-and-greet hosted by the Centro Internacional de la Familia church in Orlando, Fla., on Monday, July 27, 2015.
Orlando Sentinel—TNS via Getty Images 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush addresses central Florida pastors at a meet-and-greet hosted by the Centro Internacional de la Familia church in Orlando, Fla., on Monday, July 27, 2015.

Two days before the first Republican presidential debate, former Florida governor Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio face a different popularity test: 13,000 evangelicals in Nashville.

Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s policy arm, will interview Bush on stage Tuesday afternoon at the Send North America conference, one of the country’s largest summer church gatherings. Moore will also show a video of an interview he pre-taped with Rubio. Other leading presidential candidates, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, were invited to participate, Moore’s team says, but only Bush and Rubio accepted the invite.

The Send North America Conference is not a political event. It is a missions conference, hosted by the Southern Baptist Convention’s mission boards, and a forum for evangelicals and Baptists to deepen the ways they evangelize, even if they are not pastors or professional missionaries. Most presentations have nothing to do with politics. Keynote speaker pastor J.D. Greear of The Summit Church in North Carolina, for example, gave a keynote speech exploring how his church aims to start 1,000 new churches by 2050. Only 10% of conference participants are pastors, and more than two-thirds are male.

Moore, who has been an advocate in the recent push to defund Planned Parenthood, is hosting the interview at a missions conference so evangelicals can decide how to make presidential politics part of their own personal Christian mission.

“These candidates are not coming as speakers on Christian theology or mission, but our mission as Christians includes both personal evangelism and also public justice,” Moore wrote on his blog. “We are Americans, yes, but we are not Americans first. We are citizens too of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, and we wait not for a president but for a King.”

It is a more indirect approach to evangelical engagement from both Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s Response Rally in January, which more overtly blended his political and spiritual goals, and from the Values Voter Conference hosted by the Family Research Council in September. Instead it echoes, on a smaller scale, evangelical megachurch pastor Rick Warren’s 2008 debate between Sen. John McCain and then-Sen. Barack Obama, hosted at his Saddleback Church.

Bush, a Catholic, has been wooing Christian conservatives behind the scenes for months. He sat down with Moore more than 15 months ago in Miami to talk about evangelical concerns. In April he spoke to Hispanic evangelicals about immigration at the invitation of pastor Samuel Rodriguez Jr., the head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, whose board Moore recently joined. Rodriguez also called Rubio’s candidacy “a testimony of God-fearing, hard-working, family-loving, freedom-advancing Americans of Hispanic descent” when he announced his White House run, but later questioned his conviction on immigration.

Despite the candidates’ focus on reaching evangelical leaders, one group of evangelicals may less accessible, if only because there are fewer of them present for the conversation they want to have—women. Just 30% of the Send conference participants are women, and only two of the event’s 37 featured speakers are women. The day after Send, Moore is hosting a one-day conference on evangelical political engagement, and there again are only two women in the lineup of 17 keynote spots, Jennifer Marshall, a vice president at the Heritage Foundation, and Karen Sallow Prior, an English professor at the evangelical Liberty University.

Demographically, the divide makes sense, as only men can hold top pastoral positions in the Southern Baptist Convention tradition, but it could make the conversation over hot-button issues such as abortion more charged.

TIME Pope Francis

What the Pope’s Left Hook in Bolivia Means

Pope Francis’ speech in Bolivia on Thursday will likely go down as one of the most significant moments of his July trip to Latin America. In a poetic, 55-minute manifesto, Pope Francis called for economic justice for the poor in some of his strongest language yet.

“You are social poets: creators of work, builders of housing, producers of food, above all for people left behind by the world market,” he told a crowd of Bolivian indigenous workers, farmers, and social activists. “You, the lowly, the exploited, the poor and underprivileged, can do, and are doing, a lot. I would even say that the future of humanity is in great measure in your own hands, through your ability to organize and carry out creative alternatives, through your daily efforts to ensure the three “L’s” (labor, lodging, land) and through your proactive participation in the great processes of change on the national, regional and global levels. Don’t lose heart!”

From afar, the words make it sound like Pope Francis is rallying at the barricades from the stage of Les Misérables. Throw in the fact that Bolivian President Evo Morales presented the Pope with a hammer-and-sickle crucifix, and it seems even socialist.

But context matters. Pope Francis did not give this speech while talking to the U.S. Congress or even in front of the United Nations. He was speaking in Bolivia, the poorest country in South America. He was also standing in front of Morales, an Aymara Indian who was wearing a jacket with a picture of Ernesto “Che” Guevara who is the country’s first president to come from its indigenous majority. And he was doing it on his first visit to a country that has had a troubled relationship with the Catholic Church of late.

Under Morales’ administration, relations with church officials have been strained. Nearly 90% of Bolivians were raised Catholic, according to the Pew Research Center, and yet Morales’ government has sought to limit the Church’s power. Bibles and crosses were removed from the presidential palace when he took office in 2006, and a new constitution later declared the country a secular state. Meanwhile 60% of current Protestants in Bolivia say they were raised Catholic, also according to Pew, highlighting Catholic concerns of an evangelical exodus from the faith in the region.

Francis’ apology for Church oppression of indigenous people in the colonial period has particular meaning in this political context. Francis went off script in his apology, making very clear his efforts at reconciliation to set a stage for a future reconciliation. “I also want for us to remember the thousands and thousands of priests who strongly opposed the logic of the sword with the power of the cross,” he said. “There was sin, and it was plentiful. But we never apologized, so I now ask for forgiveness. But where there was sin, and there was plenty of sin, there was also an abundant grace increased by the men who defended indigenous peoples.”

For his part, Morales was happy to use the occasion of the Pope’s visit to score a few political points of his own. He used the visit to say on Thursday that he has been seeking a meeting with President Obama, whom he called an imperialist at the U.N. in November. Bolivia’s diplomatic ties with the U.S. broke in 2008 when the country expelled both the U.S. ambassador and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Bolivia is one of the world’s largest producers of cocaine. The Pope’s role in brokering the U.S.-Cuba détente was clearly on his mind, and he tellingly gave credit only to the Pope and Cuba. “It is no concession of Obama’s, but the triumph of the Cuban people and the world as a whole,” he said. For him, then, Pope Francis could be a valuable link between Bolivia and the United States.

In the end, the speech is a reminder that Pope Francis is increasingly a political player in a multi-level game of chess. His power and sway holds particular importance for countries in Latin America, who champion him as the first pope who is actually theirs. The push and pull with Morales tests just how much of a free agent Francis really is.

That outcome also carries particular weight as the world waits to see how Pope Francis will handle his first trip to the U.S., the world’s capitalist superpower, especially looking ahead to his address to a joint session of Congress. There, conservatives continue to raise questions over how close the Pope’s ties to socialism actually are, and whether they approve of his critique of capitalism.

Former ambassador Otto Reich, President George W. Bush’s Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, says Pope Francis’ economic and political agenda in his trip to Latin America has gone too far. “This pope grew up in a third world country that frankly is an example of what happens when you don’t have capitalism and democracy,” Reich says. “I was very optimistic when he was named and I have been extremely disappointed in the political and economic aspects of his papacy. … He’s a victim of third world education, and Argentina is a particularly sad example.”

With reporting by Massimo Calabresi.

TIME Dalai Lama

Exclusive: The Dalai Lama Talks About Pope Francis, Aging and Heartbreak With TIME

Britain Dalai Lama
Matt Dunham—AP The Dalai Lama stands on stage before making a speech to an audience at the ESS Stadium in Aldershot, England, on June 29, 2015

On the morning of his 80th birthday

On Monday, the morning of his 80th birthday, His Holiness the Dalai Lama sat down with TIME in Anaheim, Calif. The Tibetan spiritual leader shared his advice on growing old and mending a broken heart and talked about maybe meeting Pope Francis. Below are excerpts from the conversation, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

The gap between the Tibet cause in exile and the situation on the plateau is widening. Some say that your message — which is so cheerful, hopeful, and, as we see here in Anaheim, appeals to upper-middle-class Westerners — is so counter to the situation on the ground in Tibet, where some feel that the exile government isn’t doing enough for Tibetan Buddhists themselves. How do you see that tension, and its future?
It seems that regardless of how much censorship they impose, the people in Tibet do seem to be able to get the news … Inside Tibet, is physically distant … but there’s a few who get some information, then that spreads … There are organizations, their main responsibility is to look after the Tibetan refugee community, their education, and also the way for preservation of our own culture, mainly, and monastic institutions, to carry our tradition and culture — I think quite sophisticated knowledge about the tradition. So then we are not representing, directly, inside Tibet. We have no direct responsibility like that, so by the way, say in our last, I think, 30 years, many Tibetans have the opportunity to come to India and join our school. … So then after they get some education level, they return, they carry [that] inside Tibet … Then these people now carry the main responsibility for teaching … More of these connections are taking place on the personal, individual level, organic process, not so much through the centralized institution.

You have not yet met Pope Francis, correct? If you could have a meeting with Pope Francis, what would you want to talk with him about?
Yes, not yet … Recently he also has been showing genuine concern about the environment. Wonderful. A spiritual leader should speak — these are global issues. So I admire [him].

MORE: Pope Francis Urges Climate-Change Action in Encyclical

How do you find sense of purpose as you age, especially if you live in a Western society that values youth?
I believe in also telling people, when you are young is its own special beauty, doing active things. Then, getting older, its own beauty, more experience to share with other people. One time in Sweden, I noticed, one small group of people, they have some kind of program, those retired people should take more active role taking care of young children. I think that is very good. Old people play, mixing with young children, the old people themselves feel something fresh. Sometimes, children see more love with grandparent rather than parent, that also happens. So I think children may do not attraction external beauty, old people, no longer any beauty, but smile, play, make joke, some sort of short stories, then children looked at. So if you age but then still feel bitter because you are not able to lots of things you could do when you were young, that is total, silly, unrealistic. Of course, the wider experience, the young people, youth, cannot do that — not yet.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been in love, but I’m wondering — how do you heal a broken heart?
Actually, you see, practice celibacy … If you look at the nature of strong attachment, underlying that strong attachment is a clinging, grasping, and if you look at other reactive emotions that arise, actually it is strong attachment that underpins hatred, anger, jealousy, and so on, so if you somehow are able to look at this and recognize that a large part of the reception is perception, that could lose some of this strong grasping. I always remember, in a dream, if … a beautiful woman or something like that, I remember I am a monk. It is very helpful.

And if you aren’t a monk?
I think the desire for sex goes extreme, always creates some trouble. So that I think, in Western culture, there is a lot of emphasis on sensuality, and sexuality is part of that.

TIME faith

Inside Pope Francis’ U.S. Trip Schedule

Vatican Pope Francis'
Massimo Valicchia—NurPhoto/AP Pope Francis during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at Vatican City, on June 24, 2015.

The schedule says a lot about Pope Francis' focus

Pope Francis’ schedule is almost always a political document. Everyone wants a piece of it, especially when it comes to his upcoming September trip to the U.S. The White House and Congress, not to mention outside groups, have been lobbying for months to try to influence his agenda. On Tuesday morning, the Vatican and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released the official schedule for the trip. Predictably, it is packed. Pope Francis will visit Cuba and the U.S. from Sept. 19-28—four days in Cuba, five in the U.S—and give a total of 26 addresses, 18 of them in the U.S.

The world has known the big-ticket items for months—a meeting with President Obama, an address to the U.S. Congress, a talk at the United Nations, and a mass in Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families. But the other events hold just as powerful a message. The logistics are often the key to understanding the entire agenda—where Pope Francis is, who he is with, where he is coming from and where he is going next say as much about his message as his words themselves.

This schedule shows the Pope’s diplomatic acumen from the start. Pope Francis comes to Washington only after giving first dibs to Cuba, an island that the U.S. had blackballed economically until he intervened in December. And, Pope Francis will fly directly from there to Joint Base Andrews outside Washington DC, symbolizing the new link he helped to forge between the two nations.

Once he has arrived in the U.S., Pope Francis establishes a pattern—he links political events with pastoral ones. His first full day in Washington, the Pope will meet with Obama at the White House, and then leave to hold midday prayer with the U.S. bishops at St. Matthew’s Cathedral. It is tradition for the pope to gather the bishops when he visits, and leaving the White House for a church shows the value Francis places on the work of the church and its leaders.

The next day, immediately after speaking to the U.S. Congress, he will visit Catholic Charities, the social outreach ministry of the Archdiocese of Washington, which does extensive work to serve the area’s poor, homeless and immigrant communities. The juxtaposition is a not-so-subtle hint about who Pope Francis hopes political leaders will be—politicians who serve the poor, instead of staying isolated in the halls of power.

The pattern continues in New York, where Pope Francis will begin his time with an evening prayer service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral before addressing the U.N. the next morning. From there, he will—again—go directly to an interfaith service at the 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center. It is another statement about the importance of solidarity, especially between Christians and Muslims in the face of global extremism. Pope Benedict visited Ground Zero to pray in 2008, but Francis is taking it to another level with an interfaith focus. He will then visit a Catholic elementary school in East Harlem, and celebrate mass in Madison Square Garden.

When Pope Francis goes to Philadelphia, the pattern shifts, but only slightly. The World Meeting of Families, a Catholic gathering of families every three years hosted this time in Philadelphia, was from the start the reason for his trip to the U.S. Here, Francis adds specifically political moments to a primarily pastoral visit. In addition to celebrating mass at the Cathedral Basilica, visiting the Festival of Families, and meeting the bishops at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Pope Francis will visit Philadelphia’s largest prison, the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. What Pope Francis will do there remains to be seen, but his mere presence will both highlight high incarceration rates in the U.S. and make it hard to ignore the Catholic Church’s opposition to the death penalty.

The whole trip concludes with an outdoor mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, where Pope John Paul II celebrated mass in 1979.

Francis’ schedule is like a liturgy. It is a roadmap to guide the desired focus of, and communal participation in, his message. And the places he has chosen—Catholic Charities in Washington, a school in Harlem, an interfaith service at Ground Zero, a prison in Philadelphia—will likely end up saying as much about what Francis’ focus is as anything else.

TIME faith

John Kerry Praises Pope Francis’ Climate Change Encyclical

Secretary of State John Kerry called Pope Francis’ encyclical a “powerful” statement on the threat of climate change Thursday.

Kerry, who is Catholic, told TIME in a statement that religious engagement on the issue will help spur agreement at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.

The Pope’s powerful encyclical calls for a common response to the critical threat climate change poses to our common home. His plea for all religions to work together reflects the urgency of the challenge. The faith community – in the United States and abroad – has a long history of environmental stewardship and aiding the poor, and Pope Francis has thoughtfully applied those same values to the very real threat our planet is facing today. The devastating impacts of climate change – like heat waves, damaging floods, coastal sea level rise and historic droughts – are already taking place, threatening the habitat all humans and other creatures depend on to survive. We have a responsibility to meet this challenge and prevent the worst impacts. As stewards of our planet, we can all work together to manage our resources sustainably and ensure that the poorest among us are resilient to climate change. We have the overwhelming body of peer-reviewed science to show us what is causing this problem, and we are equipped with the tools and resources to begin solving it. Engagement on this issue from a wide range of voices is all the more important as we strive to reach a global climate agreement this December in Paris.

Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Sheba Crocker met with Vatican officials, including the Holy See’s Undersecretary for Relations with States Antoine Camilleri, on May 26 at the Holy See to discuss climate change and Pope Francis’ 2015 Development goals.

“When he speaks on issues—whether it’s on climate change, alleviating poverty, or peace and security issues—it just has a real resonance and that’s something that we find incredibly useful,” Crocker says. “It’s so important for Pope Francis to be speaking in the way that he is—with such a clear voice. He brings such a moral authority to these questions, and his voice resonates in a way throughout the world, which we think provides him with crucial impetus—both political and moral—to help us reach an agreement in Paris at the end of the year.”

It’s another sign that the Obama administration is hoping to leverage Pope Francis’ efforts on shared commitments, especially in advance of his upcoming trip to the U.S. In September. “We have really renewed energy—strong leadership from the United States, but also countries from around the world, and I think real dedication and commitment to try to reach a durable agreement in Paris, which is the historic step, obviously, at the end of this year,” Crocker tells TIME. “It’s a top priority for the administration.”

U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Ken Hackett was at the Vatican press conference Thursday morning for the encyclical’s release.

TIME faith

Pope Francis Urges Climate-Change Action in Encyclical

He echoes his namesake, the patron saint of the environment

Pope Francis rocked the international community Thursday with the long-anticipated release of his climate encyclical, an authoritative church teaching poised to reshape the international conversation on climate change.

The letter—named Laudato Si’ or “Praise Be to You,” quoting a song to nature that Saint Francis wrote 800 years ago—is a powerful, prophetic, and personal plea for governments, religions, businesses and individuals to work together to address climate change, much of which Francis says is caused by humans.

Technically this is Pope Francis’ second encyclical—he completed Pope Benedict XVI’s Lumen Fidei, “The Light of Faith,” in June 2013 not long after he was elected. But it is the first one that is solely his, and its significance as a window into Francis’ thoughts and where he hopes to take the Catholic Church cannot be overstated.

Of all of Francis’ careful moves, this one is particularly calculated. It is difficult to imagine the topic was not in his long-term vision the moment he stepped onto the papal balcony to greet the world for the first time in 2013 and announced his name. His chosen namesake, Saint Francis, is not just the protector of the poor—he is also the patron saint of the environment. That foresight continued as the nearly 200-page encyclical was drafted over the past year. Now, the letter launches in time to frame his September visit to the United Nations, and it sets a moral framework for the U.N’s Conference on Climate Change in Paris, which begins in November.

Francis’ vision for change is comprehensive. He addresses the challenges of food production due to uncontrolled fishing. He reminds readers that migrants are forced to flee poverty induced by environmental degradation but are not recognized internationally as refugees. He offers a corrective to past theological interpretations that say that God gave humanity dominion over the earth and challenges the idea that humanity should be the center of concern when it comes to the Earth’s future. He calls out the failures big business, politicians, and international summits.

“It is remarkable how weak international political responses have been,” he writes. “Consequently the most one can expect is superficial rhetoric, sporadic acts of philanthropy and perfunctory expressions of concern for the environment, whereas any genuine attempt by groups within society to introduce change is viewed as a nuisance based on romantic illusions or an obstacle to be circumvented.”

Francis demands more.

At every point the encyclical gives insight into the kind of leader Francis has chosen to be. Its first sentence connects the Earth with feminine imagery—“Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us”—an effort to elevate the place of women in church life. He takes care to build his argument from the work of Catholic bishops in nearly two dozen countries, most in the global South and developing nations, including references to bishops in the Philippines, Bolivia, Argentina, Japan and Southern Africa, which covers Botswana, South Africa and Swaziland.

Francis builds his theological argument from the ground up, not just relying on historic church teachings, but also naming practical realities like the challenges of small farmers who, when forced out by large GMO-producers, often turn to poverty-stricken urban areas. He is tuned to detail—everything from the importance of urban planning to improve quality of life to addressing the pollution that arises from traffic congestion. Protecting the least of these for Francis is about more than protecting poor or marginalized humans—as he explains, it includes protecting plankton in the ocean’s food chain and worms in threatened ecosystems.

Through it all Francis, yet again, shows himself to be a personal leader. His writing is simple and clear. He frequently uses the pronoun “me.” He speaks directly, using images that everyday people can understand—he speaks of carpooling, recycling, and turning off lights; of excessive air-conditioning use and waste of discarded food while others starve. He begins with a personal plea, “My Appeal,” as he puts it, for change—“Regrettably, many efforts to seek concrete solutions to the environmental crisis have proved ineffective, not only because of powerful opposition but also because of a more general lack of interest,” he writes. “Obstructionist attitudes, even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference, nonchalant resignation or blind confidence in technical solutions.” And, he concludes with two prayers—one for Christians and another that believers of all faiths can share.

MORE: Here Are Pope Francis’ Two Prayers on Climate Change

His vision is not just Catholic, but global, ecumenical and interfaith. The Vatican made the encyclical available online in Italian, French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish and—for the first time on an encyclical release day—Arabic. A Vatican press conference on the formal encyclical release Thursday morning featured world leaders, including Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamon, representing the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Orthodox Church; John Schellnhuber, founding director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany; and Carolyn Woo, president of Catholic Relief Services and formerly of the University of Notre Dame. It is also the first time that a representative of the Orthodox Church—which first splintered from the Catholic Church in the fifth century—will be participating in such a high-profile way for an encyclical release.

Openness to conversation is a hallmark of Francis’ Jesuit training—being open to growth and listening to other points of view—and it is a model of leadership he showed during the Extraordinary Synod on the family last October, where he stressed that openness in dialogue was key to moving any issue forward. Part of the wisdom in Francis’ leadership is that he is not afraid that people will disagree with him. Instead, he turns that to an advantage.

“Here are certain environmental issues where it is not easy to achieve a broad consensus,” he writes. “Here I would state once more that the Church does not presume to settle scientific questions or to replace politics. But I am concerned to encourage an honest and open debate so that particular interests or ideologies will not prejudice the common good.”

MORE: Read Pope Francis’ Personal Appeal on Climate Change

Francis is also not afraid to call out the powerful and hold them to account. While he does not directly address specific countries and their role in pollution or destruction of resources, his generalities are pointed. Developed countries, he writes, ought to help “by significantly limiting their consumption of non-renewable energy and by assisting poorer countries to support policies and programmes of sustainable development.”

He even hints that the United States has more moral responsibility because of its global wealth and power. “We must continue to be aware that, regarding climate change, there are differentiated responsibilities,” he writes. “As the United States bishops have said, greater attention must be given to ‘the needs of the poor, the weak and the vulnerable, in a debate often dominated by more powerful interests.’”

All of this is an open attempt to model the leadership he wants from other governmental and business leaders. Francis is speaking from experience. If anyone knows the challenges of changing entrenched bureaucratic systems, it would be Francis, who is now two years into life in the Roman Curia after a lifetime in the slums of Buenos Aires. “To take up these responsibilities and the costs they entail, politicians will inevitably clash with the mindset of short-term gain and results which dominates present-day economics and politics,” Francis writes in Laudato Si’. “But if they are courageous, they will attest to their God-given dignity and leave behind a testimony of selfless responsibility. A healthy politics is sorely needed, capable of reforming and coordinating institutions, promoting best practices and overcoming undue pressure and bureaucratic inertia.”

The encyclical is a clear signpost that confirms the direction of the Francis papacy. It is a one that leads from the margins, requires response and hopes for something better for all people. Against overwhelming odds, Francis chooses hope.

“All is not lost,” he writes. “Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start, despite their mental and social conditioning. We are able to take an honest look at ourselves, to acknowledge our deep dissatisfaction, and to embark on new paths to authentic freedom.”

He adds, “No system can completely suppress our openness to what is good, true and beautiful, or our God-given ability to respond to his grace at work deep in our hearts. I appeal to everyone throughout the world not to forget this dignity which is ours. No one has the right to take it from us.”

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