Sunday, May 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Francis sets fresh path for church

Pope Francis continues to set a fresh tone and a new direction for the Roman Catholic Church. In his first major work as pontiff, released by the Vatican Tuesday, Francis called for new attention to the poor and global inequality, and he offered a vision for bringing the clergy more directly into the lives of the people. For an institution that measures history in centuries, the new pope has moved quickly in words and deeds to open a new chapter for the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.

The 84-page document, known as an apostolic exhortation, is the first outline Francis has authored for his papacy. In plain language, he criticized the excesses of the global financial system, called on world leaders to fight poverty and pledged to decentralize the church. He called for the sharing of wealth and universal access to jobs, education and health care. The pope put the Vatican hierarchy on notice that it would lead by example. The church, he said, must heed a "conversion of the papacy" and redirect itself toward pastoral care.

Francis' letter, warm and folksy at times, builds on the themes the 76-year-old pontiff has brought to the stage since becoming pope in March. In framing a vision for the church, Francis shifted away from hot-button issues — a focus of his predecessor, Pope Benedict — and called for a new sense of social mission. He implored the clergy to sharpen their homilies and reach out more to parishioners. He called for closer relationships between religious faiths and vowed to open up the Vatican's decisionmaking. "I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty," he said, "because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined."

Francis gave liberals no real ground, affirming the church's position against abortion and the ordination of women — "not a question open to discussion," he wrote. But the first pope from Latin America understands that the church is both a spiritual and a political institution. His call for social justice plays well in Latin America, home to 40 percent of the world's Catholics. His focus on pastoral obligations is vital to restoring the church's standing in America in the aftermath of the child sex abuse scandal. And Francis' call for tolerance of other faiths and gays and for a broader role for women in the church resonates among many lapsed Catholics and the secular world.

Francis is clearly determined to leave a legacy. His humility, humor and charisma have inspired the clergy and everyday Catholics alike. His plans to involve the bishops and energize the parishes will make for a stronger, more relevant church. This promises to be an exciting, historic papacy whose impact reaches far beyond the Catholic faithful.

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Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

St. Petersburg’s 3-year-old recycling program has reached an undesirable tipping point, with operating costs exceeding the income from selling the recyclable materials. The shift is driven by falling commodity prices and new policies in China that cu...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Housing Secretary Ben Carson has a surefire way to reduce the waiting lists for public housing: Charge more to people who already live there. Hitting a family living in poverty with rent increases of $100 or more a month would force more people onto ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

It’s a safe bet Florida will get caught up in the frenzy to legalize wagering on sports following the U.S. Supreme Court opinion this week that lifted a federal ban. Struggling horse and dog tracks would love a new line of business, and state l...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/16/18