The archbishop of Washington, DC, Cardinal Wilton Gregory, issued a statement Wednesday suggesting that some of the blame for the violence in the nation’s Capitol falls on the shoulders of President Trump.
“The divisive tone that has recently so dominated our national conversations must change,” Cardinal Gregory said, in apparent reference to Trump. “Those who resort to inflammatory rhetoric must accept some responsibility for inciting the increasing violence in our nation.”
Cardinal Gregory, the first black American cardinal, has been an outspoken critic of Trump, accusing him of racism and divisiveness.
“I fear that recent public comments by our President and others and the responses they have generated, have deepened divisions and diminished our national life,” the archbishop declared in August 2019 after the president had sharply criticized Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) for his verbal attack on Homeland Security officers and the conditions at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Our faith teaches us that respect for people of every race, religion, gender, ethnicity and background are requirements of fundamental human dignity and basic decency,” Gregory said, seeming to imply that Trump’s words were motivated by racism. “This include newcomers to our country, people who have differing political views and people who may be different from us.”
“We all need to reject racism, disrespect or brutality in speech and action,” he said, adding that “racism occurs when we ignore the fundamental truth that, because all humans share a common origin, they are all brothers and sisters, all equally made in the image of God.”
“We must all take responsibility to reject language that ridicules, condemns, or vilifies another person because of their race, religion, gender, age, culture or ethnic background,” the archbishop said.
“As an American, a Christian, a Catholic pastor, I pray that our President, other national leaders and all Americans will do all we can to respect the dignity of all God’s children and nothing to further divide our nation. The growing plague of offense and disrespect in speech and actions must end,” Gregory concluded.
This past June, Gregory once again attacked the president, declaring that his visit to the shrine of Saint John Paul II in Washington, DC, was a “photo opportunity” and a “manipulation” of a Catholic sanctuary, adding that it “violates our religious principles.”
“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 archbishop said.
In point of fact, the purpose of Trump’s visit to the shrine, which commemorated the 41st anniversary of John Paul’s historic visit to Poland in 1979, was to issue an executive order on advancing international religious freedom, a topic dear to the heart of Pope John Paul II.
“Religious freedom, America’s first freedom, is a moral and national security imperative,” the Trump order stated. “Religious freedom for all people worldwide is a foreign policy priority of the United States, and the United States will respect and vigorously promote this freedom.”
In late November, Cardinal Gregory announced that he would gladly give Holy Communion to Joe Biden, in deference to the practice established by former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of offering Communion to pro-abortion politicians.
In 2004, Gregory, then president of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference, joined McCarrick in opposing Rome’s call for withholding Communion from Catholic politicians who support abortion.
In December 2020, Archbishop Charles Chaput responded to Cardinal Gregory by criticizing bishops who indicate their willingness to give Holy Communion to Joe Biden despite his overt support for abortion.
“Public figures who identify as ‘Catholic’ give scandal to the faithful when receiving Communion by creating the impression that the moral laws of the Church are optional,” the former archbishop of Philadelphia said. “And bishops give similar scandal by not speaking up publicly about the issue and danger of sacrilege.”
In reference to Gregory’s remarks, Chaput also noted that bishops contribute to the scandal when they act as if supporting abortion does not harm a person’s relationship with the Church.