rio de janeiro

Pope Francis was greeted by enthusiastic crowds in Rio de Janeiro as he returned to his native continent for the first time as pontiff, but was involved in a security scare as his car took a wrong turn on the way from the airport. Later petrol bombs were thrown and protesters accused riot police of an unprovoked attack in clashes outside the presidential palace.

The largest-ever United Nations conference, a summit billed as a historic opportunity to build a greener future, appears to be going up in smoke. U.S. President Barack Obama likely won't be there, and the leaders of Britain and Germany have bowed out. The entire European Parliament delegation has canceled. And with fewer than six weeks to go until the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development, negotiations to produce a final statement have stalled amid squabbling. Logistical snags, too, threaten to derail the event.

In the midst of the current global tumult, I decided to take an afternoon’s break and escort my young children to the local movie theater to watch the new animated feature film Rio. As the first brightly colored 3-D computer-generated images flashed up on the screen, I felt assured of at least ninety minutes’ respite from the so-called real world.