NOVEMBER 1, 2017


Our fragmented, conflicted, leaderless world is awaiting a miracle to help. Miracles do happen, on occasions. Timing, however, is crucial. Let's hope for one. In 2017?

It happens that this October has a special significance for millions hoping for a miracle. It is the one hundredth anniversary of the proclaimed apparition of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal. A spreading belief among Catholic faithful is that it is an occasion for a likely miracle.

Pope Francis made a special visit to Our Lady of Fatima shrine in May. During this October, the particular anniversary month, visitors, like pilgrims, from all continents, congregated to light candles of all shapes near an open-air capella where masses were celebrated in various languages from Korean to Spanish. A daily 6:30pm mass in Portuguese held at the main cathedral with full decorum and chants was covered by TV cameras - disrupted only by clicking cameras and posturing selfies. In the recently renovated wide procession space, all languages could be heard from Filipino Tagalog to Sri Lankan, Chinese, Arabic, French, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Congolese, Cameroon, Polish, Latvian were heard in discreet whispers or collective recital. Throughout the day, someone would be circulating around the capella alter kneeling on both knees, in fervent appeal. All praying. All awaiting, hoping for a miracle.

In our current world, where -- or how -- would we hope it would happen?

Naturally, peace of mind, peaceful settlements of disputes, human dignity for everyone, better assistance to millions of migrating refugees, widespread education for all men and women, improved relief from poverty, social justice, cleaner environment, wider communications within and beyond borders. In brief, a miracle in any area of U.N. objectives will be welcome.

As it happens, the current U.N. Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, is from Portugal. He grew up within a 90 minute drive from the site of the proclaimed apparition.

Mr. Guterres -- and the international community -- seem to need a miracle to gather enlightened courage to perform a leadership role in reviving a currently eroded yet previously highly-regarded International Civil Service through the U.N. Secretariat. It would be a miracle if and when he takes a clearly-defined position on critical issues; not merely preventing presentations of re-furbished old concepts, but taking precise measures to substantively move forward. It would be a miracle if and when he is liberated from excessive caution, while dealing with big powers and in offering practical support for smaller member states. While the U.N. needs big powers to survive, it needs the small countries to succeed. It would be a miracle if the Chief Administration Office of the U.N. injects inspiring team leadership within its talented workers. The Secretary-General needs an effective staff as much as a dedicated staff and an inspiring Secretary-General.

Some would claim that the swift, unexpected election of Mr. Guterres, in a field of qualified women when it was generally thought it was time for a female Secretary-General, seemed like a personal miracle. Yet, with due regard to his "Opus," a public miracle is certainly needed soon. Let's hope for one in 2017. Please!