The Archbishop of Washington has condemned US President Donald Trump's visit yesterday to a national Catholic shrine as civil unrest continues over the death of George Floyd. Source: America Magazine.
By Michael O'Loughlin, America Magazine.
President Trump visited the St John Paul II National Shrine in Washington yesterday, prompting criticism from Catholics who demonstrated near the Catholic University of America, which is adjacent to the shrine. Some Catholic protestors prayed the Rosary while holding signs reading, “Our Church is Not a Photo Op” and “Black Lives Matter.”
Mr Trump and his wife, Melania, who is Catholic, stood for several minutes in front of a large statue of St John Paul II before entering the building.
Archbishop Wilton Gregory, who has led the Washington Archdiocese for just over a year, condemned the visit in a statement released yesterday before Mr Trump’s visit.
“I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people even those with whom we might disagree,” the nation’s highest-ranking African-American bishop said.
Archbishop Gregory pointed to John Paul Il’s defence of human rights to condemn “the use of tear gas and other deterrents to silence, scatter or intimidate them for a photo opportunity in front of a place of worship and peace,” alluding to Mr Trump’s photo in front of St John’s Episcopal Church on Monday.
The St John Paul II National Shrine emailed a statement to America that read:
The White House originally scheduled this as an event for the president to sign an executive order on international religious freedom. This was fitting given St John Paul II was a tireless advocate of religious liberty throughout his pontificate. International religious freedom receives widespread bipartisan support, including unanimous passage of legislation in defense of persecuted Christians and religious minorities around the world. The shrine welcomes all people to come and pray and learn about the legacy of St. John Paul II.
The purpose of Mr Trump’s visit was to highlight his administration’s efforts to protect religious liberty. Later in the day, he returned to the White House to sign an executive order related to that subject.