Pope Francis visits the United States for the first time in his life

GlobalPost
A mural of Pope Francis on the side of a building in midtown Manhattan on Sept. 21, 2015 in New York City.

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NEED TO KNOW:

Brace yourselves, Pope Francis arrives in Washington, DC today.

Pope Francis is the most popular and media-savvy leader the Catholic Church has seen in a long time. Even many non-Catholics are enthralled with the progressive statements the pope has made on everything from the environment to gay marriage and income inequality.

Not to mention, he rocks a rather elevated selfie game.

But while Pope Francis says popular things, his actions are less clear. On no issue is that more apparent than on the continuing scandal of alleged child sex abuse by Catholic clergy members.

As GlobalPost Senior Correspondent Will Carless revealed in a recent investigation, some of the priests accused of child sex abuse in the United States — and even some who have admitted to it — have been allowed to freely relocate and continue working as priests in South America. Despite repeated requests by GlobalPost, no representative from the Vatican has responded to the investigation.

Now, advocates for victims of child sex abuse in the Catholic Church are speaking out. GlobalPost asked them how they rate the pope’s record on the issue. Here’s one reply: “To be blunt, Francis hasn’t exposed one cleric who has committed or is concealing child sex crimes. Nor has he ordered any of the world’s 5,100 bishops to do so.”  

WANT TO KNOW:

Intifada is an Arabic word used to describe uprisings in the Middle East and beyond. Translated to English, the word means something like, “shaking.” But it really means “resistance.”

While it's most often used to describe Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation, there have been many intifadas throughout the region over the years. In the '60s they were usually a reaction to colonial rule. Some call the recent protest movements that have forever changed many countries in the Middle East and North Africa, known popularly as the Arab Spring, intifadas.

In Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, there have been two major intifadas. The first lasted about six years, starting in 1987. The second and more deadly intifada began in 2000, lasting five years. While the violence began earlier, many observers say the second intifada was sparked by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon when he visited what Jews call "the Temple Mount" in occupied East Jerusalem.

In the last year, tensions have again erupted around this holy place. Muslims know it as the Haram al-Sharif, home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and for them it is one of the most holy places on the planet. The Israeli government has long forbidden Jews from even praying at the site. But recently, those laws have been challenged — sometimes by extremist Jews who are calling for the site’s destruction.

Some call these tensions, and the small-scale but no less devastating violence that has accompanied them, the "silent intifada." This new uprising — which, really, is anything but silent — comes after last summer's war in Gaza, where a massive Israeli bombing campaign and related hostilities killed more than 2,200 people, mostly Palestinians in Gaza, many of them children.

This week Yom Kippur, the Jewish holy day, and Eid al Adha, also an important holiday for Muslims, will fall at the same time: Wednesday. So security around Jerusalem — meaning, Israeli police and army presence — will be intense. Here is a good overview of the current situation.

STRANGE BUT TRUE:

It’s not easy being the US Embassy in Moscow. It’s like being the kid forced to eat alone at lunch in school, picked on incessantly by the more popular bullies. But like that kid, the US Embassy in Moscow is occasionally moved to respond.

GlobalPost Senior Correspondent Dan Peleschuk writes how the US Embassy did just that when a Russian TV station falsely reported that US Ambassador to Russia John Tefft attended an opposition rally in Moscow over the weekend. The station used a doctored image as evidence.

The US Embassy was like, “I don’t think so.” The ambassador was nowhere near the opposition rally, they said. And to show how easily a photo can be manipulated these days, the embassy’s staff manipulated the picture further: showing the ambassador at a hockey game, and on the moon. International diplomacy has changed.