Sitting in my favorite sushi hangout today I listlessly gazed at the truly beautiful sight of Pope Francis visiting the United States. He wore a brilliant smile as myriads surrounded him, thronging toward their beloved leader and righteous example. As it sometimes does, I felt happy for the general situation, but a little dismayed that the media pays little attention to my own spiritual leader on earth, LDS prophet Thomas S. Monson. He stands at the head of a glorious international church, over 15 million strong. But as I continued pondering the comparison in my head, I came to conclusion that proved rather more calming and peaceful than any prideful competition can ever offer.
I'm glad Pope Francis is here. I welcome him with open arms as it were and with gratitude that we both worship the Lord Jesus Christ. Now is not the time to bicker about relatively small differences. Our society has in many ways turned its back on God and this surely proves an ideal time to join hands across denominations and point our crumbling country back to the Lord. If he can bring a little more reverence to the United States at large, a little more happiness, a little more faith, then I support his efforts completely. But I'm also grateful the Pope is here for another reason, and one no less dear to my heart.
We members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints often strive to be foremost in leading people to Christ. We hold high standards and often find ourselves examples of righteousness in our communities. But we too are human and yesterday one of our very beloved apostles and one of my personal favorites named Richard G. Scott was taken home to meet our Lord. I know he meant a great deal to the worldwide church and earlier today tears poured down my face in thinking that I would never receive another masterful sermon from his compassionate and considerate heart. I have many times found myself struggling with a problem or question, only to watch the live broadcast of our general leaders and discover an answer in one of Elder Scott's talks. He has proven the third apostle we have lost in less than six months and we do not fill the vacancies until our worldwide conference next weekend. The other two apostles were no less beloved and one, Boyd K. Packer, was nothing short of a legend. Our Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is at present a quorum of the nine, as my children call it. I am grateful for Pope Francis's visit because it comes most opportunely. I am grateful for the attention it will grab, the hearts it will soften and the fact that it will add a measure of light to the nation so that we Mormons can have a moment to ourselves to grieve, and then as always, in faith, to look ahead toward the future.