Kathryn Lopez

Expect, in other words, for the pope to talk about religious freedom in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

That won't be all. Papal biographer George Weigel recently wrote, "The pope is coming to the U.N., not to give a pontifically guided tour of the world scene, praising this and lamenting that. In this 60th anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he is far more likely to challenge the world body to take more seriously the moral truths that undergird the human dignity the U.N. was founded to defend -- moral truths that can be known by reason."

That's not the "Bush lied, people died" message some were praying for. Just as well. What the world needs now is not more Iraq finger-pointing, but a clear way forward. Benedict offers some of that: He issues a warning siren and challenges religious leaders to take a serious look at the big picture.

Weigel predicted to me about the upcoming trip: "The question is whether, and how, Islam can affect what Christian theology would call a 'development of doctrine' on issues like religious freedom and the separation of religious and political authority in a just state. A lot of 21st-century history is riding on the answer to that question."

If the pope can start with that issue, and share his vision of a world with political leadership embracing reason, he will be doing a great service in helping us win this war.

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.