Pope John Paul II is finally getting involved in one of the biggest scandals in the history of the Roman Catholic Church. Last week he called for an emergency meeting (to be held this week), directing a dozen American cardinals and the top two officers of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to convene with Vatican officials in Rome to discuss the recent U.S. sexual-abuse scandals. Although this announcement raised more hopes for answers to that crisis than a two-day meeting can possibly satisfy, the session is at least proof that the Vatican is willing to act on what has become a global dilemma. "This is not just a problem in the American church," said the Rev. Thomas Reese of America, the U.S. Jesuit magazine. But it will likely be the Americans who press the Vatican hardest for change.

At a minimum, the Americans want a papal mandate requiring all U.S. bishops to implement tough, uniform standards for dealing with clergy accused of child molestation. They also want a clear word from Rome that the church's main concern is the welfare of children, not the protection of abusive priests. For their part, Vatican officials want to know what the U.S. seminaries are doing to screen out potential child abusers. And Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, leader of the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy and the meeting's chair, will likely raise the issue of sexually active homosexuals in the U.S. clergy.

Already, news of the Rome summit has had one important effect: formerly silent U.S. cardinals have suddenly become clerical Chatty Cathys. In Washington last week, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick told The Washington Post that he hopes the Rome meeting will call for full disclosure of all the priests who have been removed for sexually abusing children and how much the various dioceses have paid in settling cases. "The sunshine should come in," he said. In Chicago, Cardinal Francis George encouraged victims who have settled cases with the church and have promised they would remain silent to speak up if "it would be therapeutic to go public." In a televised press conference in Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony went much further. In Rome, he declared, he would urge the Vatican to open discussion of a married clergy for the church, and even of ordaining women to the priesthood. "It's not a panacea that you have married clergy or women clergy," Mahony said.

If Mahony has his way, it would be a historical turning point for the papacy--and for John Paul II in particular. Since Vatican Council II (1962-66), the Catholic Church has been very reluctant to allow bishops to speak their minds on taboo subjects like birth control and changes in the celibate, all-male priesthood. Since the mid-1960s, several bishops have published studies questioning the psychosexual maturity of many seminarians. One young canon lawyer even submitted a study predicting a crisis exactly like the one today. All of these were suppressed.

But one shouldn't expect a historical decision this week, or soon, for that matter. If the gathering is wise, says Jesuit Avery Dulles (the only real theologian among the American cardinals), the assembled prelates will realize that "a crisis situation is not a good time to change policies, like clerical celibacy, that have been affirmed over long centuries." Still, at least a long-overdue dialogue on fundamental change now has a chance to begin.

Afghanistan: The Return Of The King

On the surface, Tajiks from the interim administration have expressed their support for Shah's return as a figure of national unity. But if the king favors the Pashtuns currently in office, that support could quickly wane. Given his age and failing health, the last thing Zahir Shah needs now is to fall into a political snake pit.


Baby Steps

This leaves the Turkish government in a tough spot. The European Union was just about to declare the PKK a terrorist organization after lobbying from Ankara; now it doesn't exist. And Turkey insists the name change is just a tactic to avoid an EU ban. KADEK's leader, for instance, is still the old PKK boss, Abdullah Ocalan, imprisoned in Turkey since 1999. Whatever they call themselves, says Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz, "those involved in terrorism will still be held accountable."

By going legit, KADEK hopes to ensure rights for Kurds in Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria. It has little chance, though, of participating in mainstream politics in any of these countries--all are wary of separatism, and Turkey even bans parties that are based on race or religion. But at least KADEK's strong party structure is likely to prevent radical splinter groups from forming. But Ankara must gauge its response carefully. To kill off Kurdish radicalism altogether, the Turkish government could grant moderate demands: the rights to broadcast in Kurdish and to give children Kurdish names and some education in Kurdish. If it doesn't, Kurdish radicals will likely be back in business. After all, they may be laying down their arms, but they're not surrendering.


Feeling Insecure

The disarray could have long-term consequences. Israel has accused some of the agencies--including Yasir Arafat's elite Force-17 unit--of abetting terrorists. But other agencies that have stayed out of the fighting, like Jibril Rajoub's Preventive Security, were also hit. So were groups dedicated to local law enforcement--blue-uniformed cops who direct traffic and catch common criminals. Their disintegration raises the specter of chaos in the West Bank. "The security agencies are the backbone of Arafat's administration," says Danny Rubinstein, an Arab-affairs analyst who writes for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. "Without them, there's no Palestinian Authority."

Security chiefs say they'll rebuild their forces the moment Israeli troops leave. But although Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has promised a withdrawal, Israeli tanks will remain in Bethlehem and Ramallah until the standoffs are resolved. In other locations, troops are pulling back but not out. "We'll be ringing the cities for the time being, but every time there's another suicide attack, we'll go back in and clean things up," says Interior Minister Eli Suissa. "Our incursions will be rougher, and we'll stay longer." And Palestinian security agencies will continue disintegrating.


A City Saved


Roh's Rise

Most importantly for Roh, the majority of South Korea's youth look to the Internet--a domain in which he is king because of his popularity with the young--for their information. Tens of thousands of Roh supporters log on each night and act as his cyber-missionaries. They publicize his accomplishments and ideas and send campaign e-mails to primary delegates. Roh's rapid rise really shows what separates winners and losers. Al Gore may have invented the Internet. Roh clearly knows how to use it.


Name Games

Now comes another band faced with a post-9-11 dilemma: I Am the World Trade Center. Bad names aside, track 11 on its album, released back in May, was coincidentally called "September." Naturally, the band received tons of hate e-mail, and considered changing its name to I Am the World, or I Am the Empire State Building. Eventually, explains IATWTC member Dan Geller, they decided to stick with the original name. "Our lives had become so intertwined. [Bandmate Amy Dykes and I] were two people standing for one entity, like the towers," says Geller. Oh, those pop stars, they're so deep.

First Person Global: Getting Around Moscow

By Eve Conant

Moscow has three main modes of transport: subway (excellent, but not all metro stops are that near to your final destination), bus (think of endless, cold waits in subzero temps) and taxi. By default, I, like many Muscovites, often go for taxis.

Actually, riding a cab in Moscow is more like hitchhiking. Despite Moscow's high crime rate, hitchhiking is so widespread and generally safe that official cabs have never been able to get a corner on the market. Not only are their fares high (some even turn the meter on), there are so few official cabs that you'd end up waiting forever. So private "taxis" have moved in. As one surprised American visitor recently put it: "Any car can be your cab." The average wait for a private taxi? Ten seconds of streetside chill before a Russian car comes hurtling across five lanes of traffic, wheels squealing to a halt three inches from your toes.

Just as any car can be your cab, so can any Muscovite drive it. In recent weeks I have been driven by a geophysicist, a former paratroop commander, a conductor, a computer specialist and a high-ranking officer in the tax police. I even asked Mr. Taxman if our ride was legally questionable. He just rolled his eyes. "If they paid the tax police decently, we wouldn't have to do this," he sighed. My transport in the past has included off-duty drivers, and cars, of the presidential administration (complete with flashing blue lights and deafening horns), two hearses (empty, thankfully), several ambulances and even the occasional Mercedes of a rich businessman whose driver was just circling around town while his boss had lunch.

Just as their occupations vary, so do their prices, rules and behavior. Some have no-smoking decrees, often using the ashtray to prop up small Orthodox icons. Most drivers, however, will smoke up a storm. But no cigarettes will be lit until a route is chosen. That's no small feat, given Moscow's labyrinth of streets and wretched traffic jams. The ride usually begins with a heated routing debate--as if driving in Moscow were a chess game with pitfalls and brilliant plays, all best negotiated several moves in advance.

But the most rousing debate is usually over seat belts. Nearly all drivers will berate you if you even try to strap yourself in. Buckling up is seen as an insult to your cabbie's ability as a driver and choice of vehicle, a goody-two-shoes tactic, a laughable stab at self-preservation in the face of cruel destiny. It is simply not done. "You're certainly a law-abiding citizen!" chortled one driver, Maxim, the other night as I put mine on. He quickly grew more serious. "There's no need for that in Moscow!" His argument: because there is so much traffic, you won't be going fast enough to cause anything more than a fender bender.

Most Russian drivers see seat belts as dangerous, too. They argue that Russian cars have a tendency to spontaneously ignite or, in a minor accident, crunch up like a tin can--requiring an ever-so-swift exit. Others point out that larger Russian models like the Volga are such a "smooth" and "easy" ride that you could never, ever get into an accident. Even a safety professional like driving instructor and moonlighting cabbie Alexei says: "It's just not a habit." So in Moscow, you tend to just go with the flow, unless you're a big eno