Dear Friends in Christ,
Too often the world seems to be coming apart at the seams. The Islamic Caliphate is raping, torturing and murdering without restraint and extinguishing the last remnants of Christianity in the Levant. Russia is again aggressive with the West, taking territory with impunity and threatening its neighbors with invasion and conquest. China is rising to be a global military power even as its economy plunges into instability, causing great concern for the governments of Japan, Korea, and the United States. Iran has emerged as the hegemon of the Middle East and is soon to have an arsenal of nuclear weapons, thus setting the stage for a war of unspeakable horror. And in the midst of all that, the American economy has contracted in the past two weeks by more than one trillion dollars, while the price of oil is on a constant roller coaster ride and both political parties manoeuvre for control of the White House with candidates who inspire little confidence in the health of our Republic even as they lay bare the deep and bitter divisions in this country. In other words, the world is a mess, and one might conclude from this chaos that darkness and despair are all that remain. But two events in the next month will remind the world that something better is possible. Indeed, something more is always with us, even when we don’t perceive it.
On Wednesday of this week, Queen Elizabeth II will surpass her great-great-grandmother Victoria to become the British monarch with the longest reign in the very long history of that royal throne. Though we Americans are no longer British subjects, the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom remains one of the greatest forces for peace and prosperity in the history of the world, and the fortunes of Great Britain are therefore of great significance to people everywhere, including here in the former Colonies. Her Britannic Majesty has dedicated her long life to the service of her people and her duty before God, and she is a splendid example of how we can rise above adversity and grief with dignity and grace. Therefore, give thanks on Wednesday for the life and labors of “Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.”
Then from 22 to 27 September, the Bishop of Rome will come to visit the United States of America. Pope Francis sits upon the Chair of St. Peter and occupies the oldest continuously active office in the world today, and he speaks to the citizens of this nation as the Vicar of Jesus Christ and Supreme Pastor of the Universal Church. Papal visits are always charged with a sense of history, but this first visit of Pope Francis will undoubtedly be filled with many moments of grace – moments that remind us that hatred and violence do not have the last word in our lives or the history of the world. God be praised for His servants Queen Elizabeth II and Pope Francis.