FOX NEWS — The Washington archbishop is facing backlash from Catholics for his scathing condemnation of President Trump‘s visit to the Saint John Paul II National Shrine, coinciding with an international religious liberty executive order Tuesday.
Wilton Gregory opposed the long-planned visit by Trump and first lady Melania Trump, who is Catholic.
“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 a statement.
“Saint Pope John Paul II was an ardent defender of the rights and dignity of human beings. His legacy bears vivid witness to that truth,” Gregory added. “He certainly would not condone 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.”
The archbishop was referring to Trump’s Monday night surprise walk from the White House to St. John’s Episcopal Church, amid the protests following Floyd’s death. Trump held up a Bible and posed for a photo. Prior to his visit — and a mandated curfew in the city — police officers took steps to remove protesters from Lafayette Park.
Brian Burch, the president of CatholicVote, a political Catholic organization, said Trump’s visit to the shrine and executive order should be “celebrated” by those who love the church and religious freedom.
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