Pope Francis opened a big meeting, the 16th Synod of Bishops, this week. He also swore in 21 new cardinals, who come from many different parts of the world. And he released his new encyclical on the climate crisis.

The synod’s agenda includes discussions of many hot-button issues that have divided the church, such as the inclusion of LGBTQ+ people, the role of women in the church and whether priests should be allowed to get married.

For the first time, its voting members will not only be bishops but other Catholics from around the world. As Daniel Speed Thompson, a Catholic theologian at the University of Dayton, writes, the meeting is significant because it indicates Francis’ intention to give “all Catholics a voice in the decision-making process of the church.”

Similarly, Holy Cross specialist in medieval Christianity Joanne Pierce argues that the appointment of 21 new cardinals representing the diversity within Catholicism, will have a profound impact on the future of the Catholic Church.

Meanwhile, the new encyclical is an addendum to “Laudato Si,” a Vatican document on environmentalism and the Christian faith, first released in May 2015. It strongly reproaches wealthy nations and links environmental problems with economic, social and technological issues. UC Santa Barbara environmental ethicist Lisa H. Sideris, in analyzing Francis’ critique, writes why with this, too, Francis is trying to highlight deeper issues that society has neglected to address. Above all, he points to the denial of how interconnected the world is.

This week we also liked articles about how Zoom and other videoconferencing services lead some people to become extremely anxious about their appearance, why journalists pay too much attention to electoral polls, and a labor union with a string of wins that expedited the demise of its members’ profession.

[ Get a global perspective on the news, with the best of The Conversation’s journalism from around the world, twice weekly. ]

Kalpana Jain

Senior Religion + Ethics Editor/ Director of the Global Religion Journalism Initiative

Pope Francis leads a prayer vigil at St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City on Sept. 30, 2023. Antonio Masiello/Getty Images

The worldwide consultations for the global synod reflect Pope Francis’ efforts toward building a more inclusive Catholic Church

Daniel Speed Thompson, University of Dayton

As the Synod of Bishops meets in Rome, a Catholic theologian explains the preparations that went into the consultative process and what it says about Pope Francis’ vision for the future church.

Jailed: Iranian women’s protest leader Narges Mohammad has been awarded the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize. EPA-EFE/Abedin Taherkenareh

Nobel peace prize: Narges Mohammadi wins on behalf of thousands of Iranian women struggling for human rights

Hind Elhinnawy, Nottingham Trent University

The Nobel prize committee said Narges Mohammadi represented the struggle of many thousands of brave women fighting for their rights.

Smuggled rare Mexican box turtles intercepted by U.S. officials at the Port of Memphis. USFWS

There’s a thriving global market in turtles, and much of that trade is illegal

Jennifer Sevin, University of Richmond

More than half of the world’s turtle species are endangered or threatened, and overhunting of wild species is a major cause.

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