By La Croix International staff | United States, 8 January 2021
U.S. Catholic bishops, while unanimously condemning the storming of the Capitol in Washington, are calling for peace and an orderly transfer of power between President Donald Trump and the newly elected Joe Biden.
“I join people of good will in condemning the violence today at the United States Capitol. This is not who we are as Americans,” Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said in a statement.”
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”, he said.
Archbishop Gomez’ statement came soon after supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump breached the U.S. Capitol January 6, breaking down doors and moving into the halls of the building. They interrupted the count of electoral votes to certify the 2020 election, affirming Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the next president and vice-president.
Police said four people died during the pandemonium — one from gunshot wounds and three from medical emergencies — and 52 people were arrested. Cardinal Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, also issued a statement on the protests.
“Our United States Capitol is sacred ground and a place where people over the past centuries have rightly demonstrated, representing a wide variety of opinions. We Americans should honor the place where our nation’s laws and policies are debated and decided,” he said.
“We should feel violated when the legacy of freedom enshrined in that building is disrespected and desecrated” Gregory said adding, “Together, we must intentionally pause and pray for peace in this critical moment.”
Cardinal Gregory was critical in his statement although he did not criticize Trump by name. “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”, he said.
He also pointed out that “We are called to be a people of democratic values that respect the opinions of others, even when we disagree with them (and) must acknowledge the human dignity of those with whom we disagree and seek to work with them to ensure the common good for all.”
Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago also called on Catholics and on all men and women of goodwill to pray for peace “at this bracing moment in U.S. history, a history that has been marked by one of democracy’s greatest virtues: the peaceful and orderly transition of power.”
In a series of tweets, Cardinal Cupich said, “What has been unfolding at the Capitol today should shock the conscience of any patriotic American and any faithful Catholic.”
He too noted that for many months Americans have witnessed “the deliberate erosion of the norms of our system of government”. Other bishops too were also quick to condemn the violence. Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Rhode Island said he would be celebrating Mass “for our troubled nation” and pray that “peace, harmony, unity and fraternity be restored in our country.”
Bishop Edward J. Burns of Dallas tweeted: “Let us pray that this one nation, under God, will always follow the paths of peace and justice.”
Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori in a statement called on “peace-loving Americans of good will throughout the United States” to “come together to engender peace, reconciliation and healing in our wounded and broken nation.”
Numerous Catholic organizations in separate statements denounced the violence at the Capitol aimed to overturn America’s presidential election.
The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns called on Trump and elected officials to “condemn the disgraceful behavior witnessed today at the Capitol and to leave behind the hateful rhetoric, false claims and failures in leadership that have led to it.”
Johnny Zokovitch, Executive Director of Pax Christi USA, was very direct in assigning blame for the January 6 mayhem. “Let us be clear. The events unfolding today at the U.S. Capitol are the result of the demagoguery of one man, President Trump, and the failure of all those – politicians, media, family, and more – who excused, overlooked, dismissed or otherwise encouraged the hateful and divisive rhetoric that have defined this president’s term in office. “Those who could have and should have held this president accountable did just the opposite for the past four years – often with designs on advancing their own agendas – and today’s ugly, shameful incidents at the U.S. Capitol were the sad, predictable outcome of this abdication of responsibility.”
Other faith-based organizations also condemned the violent actions of the mob loyal to Trump. The World Council of Churches interim general secretary expressed his “grave and mounting concern.”
“The divisive populist politics of recent years have unleashed forces that threaten the foundations of democracy in the United States and—to the extent that it represents an example to other countries—in the wider world,” said Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca.
“Accordingly, these developments have implications far beyond domestic American politics and are of serious international concern”, he added.