By Christopher White, The Tablet’s National Correspondent
NEW YORK – One U.S. prelate has gone where none have dared to go before: Directly condemning President Donald Trump for racism.
In a series of tweets Aug. 5, San Antonio’s Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller pleaded with Trump to “stop hate and racism, starting with yourself.”
In several follow-up messages, the Mexican-American archbishop directly called out the president saying: “President stop your hatred. People in the US deserve better.”
“President you are a poor man, a very week [sic] man. Stop damaging people. Please!” Archbishop Garcia-Siller wrote in another.
“Stop racism!!!! Stop!!!” he tweeted. “Starts with leadership.”
Archbishop Garcia-Siller’s messages come just days after a Texas gunman killed 22 individuals in El Paso after posting an online manifesto spewing hatred and anti-immigrant remarks.
In recent days, Archbishop Garcia-Siller has been an active presence on social media, using his Twitter account to call for greater gun control measures.
This past weekend’s shooting does not mark his first experience with gun violence. In November 2017, another gunman opened fire in a Baptist church in nearby Sutherland Springs – located within the Archdiocese of San Antonio – killing 26 individuals and wounded another 20.
In the wake of the El Paso shooting – and another the next morning in Dayton, Ohio – many leaders have called on the president to acknowledge his own divisive rhetoric. In a speech to the nation on Monday, he called out racism and white supremacy, as well as the toxicity of the internet, yet he failed to acknowledge his own weaponization of social media to stir division.
In an interview with The Tablet, El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz said it was “appropriate” for Trump to condemn white supremacy, but he added that he should “examine himself” when it comes to toxic rhetoric.
In August 2017, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), launched an ad-hoc committee against racism as a direct response to a deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Last November, the U.S. bishops issued a new pastoral letter on racism, the first time in nearly 40 years that they spoke collectively on the issue. In “Open Wide Our Hearts,” they condemn racism as “an ugly cancer [that] still infects our nation.”