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Catholic Leaders Condemn Violence by Trump Supporters in D.C.

Law enforcement officers scuffle with supporters of President Donald Trump attempting to breach security barriers at the U.S. Capitol in Washington Jan. 6, 2021, during a protest against Congress certifying the 2020 presidential election. (Photo: CNS/Jim Urquhart, Reuters)

WINDSOR TERRACE — After hours of chaos in the nation’s capital Wednesday where President Donald Trump supporters descended upon and infiltrated the Capitol building in protest of the 2020 election, Catholic leaders across the country condemned the violence and called for peace.

“I join people of goodwill in condemning the violence today at the United States Capitol. This is not who we are as Americans. I’m praying for members of Congress and Capitol staff and for the police and all those working to restore order and public safety,” Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a statement.

He continued, “The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of this great nation. In this troubling moment, we must recommit ourselves to the values and principles of our democracy and come together as one nation under God.”

By 8 p.m., the crowd had dissipated mainly, and the Capitol building was secured by law enforcement. At that time, Cardinal Wilton Gregory issued a statement that “we should feel violated when the legacy of freedom enshrined in that building is disrespected and desecrated.”

“Together, we must intentionally pause and pray for peace at this critical moment,” Cardinal Gregory said. “The divisive tone that has recently so dominated our national conversations must change. Those who resort to inflammatory rhetoric must accept some responsibility for inciting the increasing violence in our nation.”

The protestors started to gather in front of and on the Capitol building’s main steps early Wednesday afternoon as lawmakers met in joint session to count and confirm the electoral college votes from the 2020 election. Once protestors infiltrated the building, Vice President Mike Pence and lawmakers were evacuated, and the session was suspended and forced to recess. They reconvened to finish certifying the election results shortly after 8 p.m.

As of Wednesday night, there is one reported death of a woman who was shot earlier in the day. Pictures show a sea of thousands in front of the Capitol building waving “Trump 2020” and yellow “Don’t Tread On Me” flags. Others show clashes between protestors and law enforcement, officers with guns drawn guarding the House front door, and one insurgent sitting with his feet up on the vandalized desk of Nancy Pelosi.

Law enforcement officers also investigated reports of pipe bombs in multiple locations throughout Washington, D.C. One explosive device was located and safely detonated at Republican National Committee headquarters, and a suspicious package was found at the Democratic National Committee headquarters nearby, prompting an evacuation.

Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago said in a statement that what happened “should shock the conscience of any patriotic American and any faithful Catholic.”

“The eyes of the world look in horror as we suffer this national disgrace,” the statement reads. “For many months, we have witnessed the erosion of the norms of our system of government. Peaceful protest is a sacred right. It has been an essential component of much social progress over the course of human history. But violence is the opposite. Violence in the service of falsehood is worse.”

Bishops from the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States, led by Archbishop Borys Gudziak of Philadelphia, released a statement noting that “Americans bear a great responsibility for the future of democracy in the world.”

“American leaders, first of all the President of the United States, must do everything in their power to reestablish peace and the rule of law. There is much injustice in our land. There is much anger. No injustice will be remedied by violence,” the statement continued.

Bishops also took to social media during and after Wednesday’s events. Many retweeted a tweet from the USCCB that simply read, “Lord God of peace, hear our prayer.”

Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller of San Antonia put out a series of tweets, the last of which simply read, “this is a sad day in our history.”

Just after 4 p.m., President-elect Joe Biden held a televised press conference where he called on Trump to “step up” and condemn what he called a “siege.”

“The words of a president matter. No matter how good or bad that president is,” Biden said from Wilmington, Delaware. “I call on President Trump to go on national television now to fulfill his oath and defend the constitution and demand an end to this siege.”

At around 4:20 p.m., President Trump sent a message calling on protestors to “go home,” while reiterating his allegations that Democrats stole the election from him.

“I know you’re in pain. I know you’re hurt. We had an election stolen from us,” Trump said in a televised address to the protestors. “But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We have to respect our people of law and order.”

In a conversation with The Tablet,  Dennis Poust, interim executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference, said he wasn’t satisfied with what the nation heard from the president. He said what Americans need from Trump is “an unequivocal condemnation of violence in his name or for any other reason.”

“It’s hard to believe that the scenes on television were from the capital in Washington. It’s something you would expect to see in a third world country,” he continued. “The peaceful transfer of power is a sacred aspect of our democracy.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for peace in an address to Congress when they reconvened, noting that Wednesday was the Epiphany.

“I’m a big believer in prayer. Let us pray that there will be peace on earth and that it will begin with us,” she said.

3 thoughts on “Catholic Leaders Condemn Violence by Trump Supporters in D.C.

  1. Jesus’ birth brought a promise of peace to those who believed in Him. Jesus offered us His peace, but everything depends on how we react to His offer. This peace is not received automatically. This peace becomes increasingly part of our life only when we pay heed to God’s Commandments. His word, „ If anyone loves Me, he will keep My Word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.“ (John 14:23) „Oh, that you had heeded My Commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the seas.“ (Isaiah 48:18) „These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. This peace is filled with faith, certainty and power, but also with much suffering, persecution, being despised, dishonored, reviled and mistreated by those who do not appreciate our faith, hope and trust in God. “In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33) „Do not be
    overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.“ (Romans 12:21) If we do the opposite the result is unrest
    around us and within us. Those who overcome evil with good gradually learn to know the way of peace better.
    Jesus served to make peace between people and God, but this peace was broken because of our rebellion to
    go our own way and live life apart from God – otherwise known as sin. Our sins separate us from God, who is
    Holy, perfect and loving. It also prevents us from having access to the love and power from God that would
    enable us to truly realize and experience peace. Jesus’ mission was not that of bringing peace but rather
    bringing the truth of God. There will be peace on earth but only when Christ returns. May it be God’s peace
    that we long for!! May we be transformed and committed to obeying, serving and following Jesus and yielding
    our wills over to Him! We do this by obeying and living His Commandments because we love Him and want to
    serve Him in humility, singleness of heart and love.

  2. Dear Editor,
    I was present in D.C. that entire day, along with six of my parishioners. It is a truly sad day when hundreds of thousands of peaceful American citizens, young and old, go all the way to Washington, D.C., many with their families, to tell our U.S. government that we want the Supreme Court to actually hear the evidence before being told it didn’t exist, to actually do the fact- checking to explain the really strange results backed by the evidence they won’t even look at, and that we want fair and free elections….Truly sad when we prayerful people are not shown, the thousands of us, when the families are ignored, and when we are labeled Trump-supporters instead of PATRIOTS….When the media only shows some activists (always present when any protest happens – think of all the recent protests!) who pushed their way into the Capitol building, and largely ignores the fatal shooting of an unarmed veteran of our country … And truly sad when certain members of Catholic leadership referenced in this article do not applaud the prayer, patriotism and good-will of so many, and instead focus on the actions of a select few, and place all of us in the same category. A sad day for democracy, and for our Church, indeed.
    * Reverend Michael W. Panicali, Parochial Vicar, St. Mark and St. Margaret Mary Church, Brooklyn

    1. Where is the evidence?

      Our president has bold faced lied and lied and lied and the foolish believe him.

      He has used classic marketing techniques of fear, uncertainty and doubt.

      He doubled down on his ultra loyal base because he is going to profit by opening his own media network and needed a strong base to begin.

      Sorry you have been played and in the mean time the Republican Party and country is getting torn apart. A split county is exactly what Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran want – look at the big picture of who has been strongly pushing all this misinformation on Facebook.