The failed insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building on 6 January naturally drew comment from around the world. I offer some of those reactions here.
From the New York Times.
Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany: “These pictures make me angry and sad.”
Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia: “very distressing”
Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand: “devastated”
Mmusi Maimane, former leader of the opposition in South Africa: “As Africa we call for Americans to respect democracy, to respect rule of law and allow for a peaceful transition to power.”
From the Washington Post.
Armin Laschet, Minister-president of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia: “The United States Congress has been the symbol of freedom and democracy around the world for centuries. The attacks on the Capitol by fanatical Trump supporters hurt every friend of the United States.”
Juan Guaidó, the Venezuelan opposition leader who was supported by the Trump administration in his claim to the interim presidency of Venezuela: “The attack on the Capitol was an attack on democracy. My thoughts are with the citizens and officials who feel the roots of their country were attacked.”
Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland: “utterly horrifying”
Micheál Martin, Prime Minister of Ireland: “Many, like me, will be watching the scenes unfolding in Washington DC with great concern and dismay.”
Also from the Washington Post.
Giuseppe Conte, President of the Italian Council of Ministers: “I am following what is happening in Washington with great concern.”
Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada: “Canadians are deeply disturbed and saddened by the attack on democracy in the United States, our closest ally and neighbour.”
Simon Coveney, Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs: “Shocking & deeply sad scenes in Washington DC . . . We hope for restoration of calm.”
I could go on, of course, but the comment from Minister Coveney in particular illuminates my point. Exclamations of sadness, distress, and horror all carry within them an implicit yearning for a change in circumstance. One wants to experience instead happiness, peace, and delight. Minister Coveney makes this yearning explicit: a “hope for restoration of calm.”
The quotes I have offered make no mention of intercessory prayer but a yearning for a change in circumstance is at the heart of such prayer. How many prayers will be offered up in congregations around the world for a peaceful and orderly transition of power in the United States and for wisdom on the part of all in this country on the path ahead? Speaking to my fellow Americans, I wonder how often we have experienced ourselves and our nation as objects of intercessory prayer.
We Americans who pray for good government in other countries are reminded by events of this month that we need such prayers for our nation as well. When we pray for other nations, we must call to mind the parable of the publican and the Pharisee (Luke 18:9-14). This month’s events are a reminder that we need to speak honestly about the state of our democracy. And when we talk about what is good and strong in our liturgical assemblies, we should remember Gordon Lathrop’s admonition: “This assembly of beggars must be about telling other beggars where there is bread.”