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In an interview in Rome for "Axios on HBO," Cardinal Peter Turkson — a close adviser to Pope Francis — told me the Catholic Church plans to be increasingly active on climate, refugees and racial equity.

Driving the news: Both Turkson and the pope plan to attend the UN Climate Summit that begins in Scotland on Oct. 31, bringing what Turkson, echoing His Holiness, calls "the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth."

The cardinal himself is proof. Long considered a favorite to be the first Black pope, Turkson heads an office created by Francis, the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

  • Turkson's remit includes climate, migrants, and victims of armed conflict, torture and natural disasters — a lot.

Pope Francis has changed church law to give more rights to women. But Turkson — like Francis — remains conservative on women becoming priests. I asked him if he personally struggles with the issue.

  • "Personal struggle, no," he said. "The struggle will be there if that kind of thing became an issue of denial of rights, OK? ... Not even men who are ordained consider that to be a right."
Illustration: "Axios on HBO"

I asked Cardinal Turkson about a first in U.S. history: All three branches of government have practicing Catholics at their heads — President Biden, Speaker Pelosi and a majority of the Supreme Court justices.

  • "We thank God for the change ... to a point that people's faith does not constitute an obstacle to the service that they can render to a state," he said.

Asked about the lessons of the fall of Afghanistan, Turkson said world powers need to "talk more," suggesting they should fight less.

  • I asked him if that lesson had been learned. He replied: "There's still time to learn it."
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Go deeper

Obama to attend UN climate summit in Glasgow

Former President Barack Obama speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Obama Presidential Center at Jackson Park in Chicago on Sept. 28. Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP

Former President Barack Obama will travel to Glasgow next month for the UN climate summit, CNN reports.

Driving the news: Obama will meet with young climate change advocates and "urge more robust action going forward by all of us — governments, the private sector, philanthropy and civil society," according to an Obama spokesperson, per CNN.

38 mins ago - Health

White House unveils plan to "quickly" vaccinate kids ages 5-11

Charles Muro, 13, is inoculated at Hartford Healthcare's mass vaccination center at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Connecticut. Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

The White House on Wednesday released its plan to vaccinate children between the ages of five and 11, pending authorization from the Food and Drug Administration of the first COVID-19 shot for that age group.

The big picture: The White House said it has secured enough vaccine supply to equip more than 25,000 pediatric and primary care offices, hundreds of school and community health clinics, as well as tens of thousands of pharmacies, to administer the shots.

46 mins ago - Sports

Where it stands: Weed policies by U.S. sports league

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

With public support for marijuana legalization nearing unanimity, and more athletes using cannabis to treat pain, the four major U.S. sports leagues continue to reduce restrictions and punishments.

Driving the news: NBA players won't be subject to random marijuana testing this season, an extension of an agreement between the league and its players' union that began ahead of the 2020 Orlando restart.