Catholic church leaders in the United States condemned the siege of the US Capitol building by supporters of President Donald Trump on Wednesday, January 6.
“This is not who we are as Americans,” said Archbishop José Gomez, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a statement.
“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.
“I entrust all of us to the heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. May she guide us in the ways of peace, and obtain for us wisdom and the grace of a true patriotism and love of country,” added the prelate.
Hundreds of Trump’s supporters stormed the US Capitol in a stunning bid to overturn his election defeat, occupying the symbol of American democracy and forcing Congress to suspend a session to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Rioters forced their way past metal security barricades, broke windows and scaled walls to fight their way into the Capitol, where they roamed the hallways and scuffled with police officers.
Some besieged the House of Representatives chamber while lawmakers were inside, banging on its doors. Security officers piled furniture against the chamber’s door and drew their pistols before helping lawmakers escape.
Police struggled for more than three hours after the invasion to clear the Capitol of Trump supporters before declaring the building secure shortly after 5:30 p.m.
One woman died after being shot during the mayhem, Washington police said, although the victim was not named and the circumstances were unclear.
The FBI said it had disarmed two suspected explosive devices.
Shocking and unlawful
Archbishop William Lori of the Archdiocese of Baltimore expressed sadness over “the shocking and unlawful protests occurring in our nation’s capital.”
“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,” said the archbishop in a separate statement.
He prayed that “peace-loving Americans of good will throughout the United States come together to engender peace, reconciliation and healing in our wounded and broken nation.”
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco said there is no need to add an “attempted civil war” to the “deaths from a pandemic and destruction wreaked on people’s livelihoods.”
Several other church leaders expressed their condemnations of the incident.
Bishop Robert Barron, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, said that to see “violent people invading that civilly sacred space was what was so, so disturbing and so unnerving.”
Johnny Zokovitch, executive director of Pax Christi in the United States, said Trump and his supporters should be held responsible for the incident.
“The events unfolding today at the US 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 has defined this president’s term in office,” said Zokovitch.
The assault on the Capitol was the culmination of months of divisive and escalating rhetoric around the November 3 election, with Trump repeatedly making false claims that the vote was rigged and urging his supporters to help him overturn his loss.
The chaotic scenes unfolded after Trump — who before the election refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he lost — addressed thousands of supporters near the White House and told them to march on the Capitol to express their anger at the voting process.
He told his supporters to pressure their elected officials to reject the results, urging them “to fight.”
Trump came under intensive fire from some prominent Republicans in Congress, who put the blame for the day’s violence squarely on his shoulders.
Both houses of Congress resumed their debate on the certification of Biden’s Electoral College win on Wednesday evening.
Biden, a Democrat who defeated the Republican president in the November election and is due to take office on Jan. 20, said the activity of the protesters “borders on sedition.”
The former vice president said that for demonstrators to storm the Capitol, smash windows, occupy offices, invade Congress and threaten the safety of duly elected officials: “It’s not a protest, it’s insurrection.”
With reports from Reuters
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