06 January 2021, The Tablet

US bishops pray for peace as Capitol under siege

US bishops pray for peace as Capitol under siege

Thousands of Trump rioters storm Capitol in protest at certification of Joe Biden's election victory.
Lenin Nolly/PA

Bishops in the United States issued a heartfelt prayer to the “God of peace” as incredible scenes unfolded in Washington when Trump supporters stormed Capitol.

President-elect Joe Biden invoked the Catholic concept of the common good in a passionate address calling for America to remember the “way of democracy”. 

Joe Biden, speaking from Delaware, delivered a passionate address on live television calling on Trump to step up and help stop the violence being committed in his name.

“At this hour our democracy is under unprecedented assault unlike anything we have seen in modern times, an assault on the citadel of liberty, the Capitol itself, an assault on the people's representatives, on the Capitol police sworn to protect them.”

He described the insurrection as an assault on the “sacred American undertaking” – the doing of the people's business.

It does not represent what America is, he said, but just a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness. “It borders on sedition and it must end now.”

He called on the mob to end the violence and allow democracy to move forwards and demanded that Trump to go on national television to fulfil his oath to protect the constitution and demand an end to the siege.

“It's not protest. It's insurrection.The world is watching. I am genuinely sad that our nation, so long a beacon of democracy, has come to such a dark moment. 

“We will endure again and we will prevail now,” he said. The work of the next four years will be the restoration of democracy, respect and the rule of law, “not stoking the flames of hate and chaos”.

For centuries, the American people had kept their eyes on the common good. “America is so much better than what we have seen today.”

He said it had been a painful reminder of the fragility of democracy and reiterated his call for devotion to the common good.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby tweeted: “There will be many lessons to be learned from the scenes in Washington. For the moment let us pray for the USA, the world’s greatest defender of democracy until now, as it faces this huge shock. May God bless America with peace and reconciliation.”

Fr James Martin SJ tweeted: “A national disgrace and the inevitable result of the endless lies about the election spread by @realDonaldTrump and his supporters. Here we see the fruit of these lies, these sins: anger, hatred, discord, despair and violence. ‘And by their fruits you will know them’ (Mt 7:20).”

Bishop Robert Barron, an auxiliary in Los Angeles, posted a series of videos commenting on the chaos. “Friends, the appalling events in Washington DC today are a disturbing sign of a breakdown in our democratic system and compel us to a national examination of conscience regarding the civic life of this country.”

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops tweeted: “Lord God of peace, hear our prayer.”  Archbishop of Los Angeles José Gomez, conference president, immediately retweeted it.

Bishop of Fort Worth Michael Olson retweeted President Donald Trump's plea for peace. “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”

Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller of San Antonio, Texas tweeted: “O God, we have forgotten you and the blessings received. Grant us pardon and peace!”  And then he followed up with: “There are illnesses worse than the Coronavirus. O God, keep us in good health, and give us wisdom to take care of one another. PEACE!”

Trump supporters stormed Capitol, even gaining access to the Senate, and there were reports a woman had been shot and was in critical condition. At least one police officer was also injured.

The mob broke in after the US President urged his supporters to march to Capitol and protest against the electoral college vote certifying the election of Joe Biden as President, at the end of a rally in Washington. In an earlier tweet, Trump attacked Mike Pence for not attempting to block the certification.

Questions were already being asked about the security at Capitol, as Trump urged the insurrectionists to “go home in peace”, but nevertheless repeated his inflammatory rhetoric that the election was fraudulent. “Go home. We love you. You're very special,” he told his insurrectionist supporters in a video message.

CNN political correspondent Abby Phillip tweeted: “The incredible show of force that we saw in DC this summer... Where is it? That was nowhere near what we are seeing happen today as lawmakers in both chambers are in lockdown and unable to continue their duties while violent protestors storm the Capitol.”


(More follows later.)

  Loading ...
Get Instant Access
Subscribe to The Tablet for just £7.99

Subscribe today to take advantage of our introductory offers and enjoy 30 days' access for just £7.99