Catholic bishops condemned pro-Donald Trump protesters’ incursion that penetrated the Capitol Building Wednesday as Congress debated the certification of the presidential election results, leading to the evacuation of lawmakers and – as of press time Thursday morning – the deadly shooting of one protester by law enforcement.
“I join people of good will in condemning the violence today at the United States Capitol,” Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said Jan. 6. “This is not who we are as Americans. I am praying for members of Congress and Capitol staff and for the police and all those working to restore order and public safety.”
“The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of this great nation,” he added. “In this troubling moment, we must recommit ourselves to the values and principles of our democracy and come together as one nation under God.”
Bishop Ronald Gainer of the Diocese of Harrisburg, also issued a statement that day, saying “My dear brothers and sisters, I urge you to join me in praying for peace for our country after today’s events in our nation’s capital. We experienced many challenges during 2020 and with this new year, we have new opportunities to come together and find peaceful resolutions to these challenges. I pray you will join me in asking our Lord to guide us as we respond to these challenges and to bring faith, hope and love back to our land. May God bless us and may Mary Immaculate intercede for us with Her Son.”
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Twitter account said, “Lord God of peace, hear our prayer.”
Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore called the protests “shocking and unlawful.”
“We fervently pray for peace and for God’s protection over our country, our lawmakers, and all those in harm’s way this terrible day. May peace-loving Americans of good will throughout the United States come together to engender peace, reconciliation and healing in our wounded and broken nation, which remains and must always be one, under God,” he said.
The protests seeking to overturn the presidential election results followed various claims that the presidential ballot results in some states were fraudulent.
More than 150 Republican lawmakers sought to question the legitimacy of election results in some states, but Vice President Mike Pence, who can vote to break ties in the U.S. Senate, refused any suggestion that he act to block certification of the election.
Some protesters clashed with police, while others intimidated capitol guards into retreating without significant contact.
Some protesters attacked news media, while dozens of others pressed forward into the Capitol Building in defiance of capitol police, breaking windows and forcing open doors.
Lawmakers took shelter, sometimes in their offices, and put on gas masks after security used gas masks in their defense, the Associated Press said. Protesters occupied the office of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the chambers of Congress.
At least one bomb was found at the headquarters of the Republican National Committee in D.C., at least one other device was discovered on the U.S. Capitol grounds, and a suspicious package at the Democratic National Committee headquarters was under investigation, the New York Times reported.
Pence called out the National Guard to support law enforcement in the capital. After the capitol building was secured, Pelosi recalled lawmakers to certify the election results.
Another bishop who spoke out against the protests was Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport.
“There are few words that can describe the shock I feel to see our Capitol Building occupied by violent rioters. As Americans, we should be deeply disturbed to see an important symbol of freedom and liberty in our nation violated in such a way. Our nation is better than that,” he said on Twitter.
“The peaceful transfer of power is one of the most important and revered aspects of our democracy,” he continued. “We must recommit ourselves to the values we hold dear as Americans: democracy, freedom, and peace.”
“As people of faith, we condemn violence in all its forms as a moral betrayal of the Gospel,” he said. “We also know that our nation needs prayer, now more than ever, so that we may always remain one nation, under God.”
The bishop asked people to join in prayer for the U.S. “during this unprecedented and frightening time in our history.”
“Let us pray for peace in our communities, in our capital, in our Country, but most of all, in our own hearts,” he said.
Catholic News Agency