WASHINGTON (CNS) — References to the Feast of the Epiphany and St. Francis of Assisi were followed by a brief prayer the night of Jan. 6 as Speaker Nancy Pelosi reconvened the House of Representatives to confirm the Electoral College win of Joseph R. Biden Jr. in the November presidential election. The count had been interrupted that afternoon by hundreds of marauders who stormed the Capitol, bringing the count to a halt.
“Today, Jan. 6, is the Feast of the Epiphany,” when the Christ Child was first revealed to those outside his family, said Pelosi, D-Calif. “On this day of revelation, let us pray that this instigation to violence will provide an epiphany for our country to heal.”
“In that spirit of healing, I evoke the song of St. Francis. I usually do. St. Francis is the patron saint of my city of San Francisco, and song of St. Francis is our anthem: ‘Lord, make me a channel of thy peace. Where there is darkness, may you bring light. Where there is hatred, let us bring love. Where there is despair, let us bring hope.’”
Later, near the end of her remarks, Pelosi, who is Catholic, said: “So on this holy day of Epiphany, let us pray. I’m a big believer in prayer. Let us pray that there will be peace on earth and that it will begin with us. Let us pray that God will continue to bless America with that.”
Catholic leaders responded similarly to the Capitol breach — the most serious since the British burned down the building during the War of 1812.
In praying for those engulfed in the violence at the Capitol, Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory of Washington — in whose archdiocese the Capitol is located — said: “There are injuries and tremendous harm, including reports about the loss of life.” A woman shot inside the Capitol during the melee later died at a hospital. A second woman and two men died from what Metropolitan Police Dept. Chief Robert Contee called “medical emergencies,” without specifying their nature.”
“Together, we must intentionally pause and pray for peace in this critical moment,” Cardinal Gregory said. “The divisive tone that has recently so dominated our national conversations must change. Those who resort to inflammatory rhetoric must accept some responsibility for inciting the increasing violence in our nation.”
“I join people of goodwill in condemning the violence today at the United States Capitol. This is not who we are as Americans,” said a Jan. 6 statement by Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of this great nation. In this troubling moment, we must recommit ourselves to the values and principles of our democracy and come together as one nation under God.”
“I join my brother U.S. bishops in condemning the violence we witnessed today in our nation’s capital and condemning the events and rhetoric leading to the mob violence,” said a Jan. 6 tweet from St. Louis Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski on the Twitter feed of the St. Louis Review, the archdiocesan newspaper.
“The Gospel itself is a full-throated and stern warning against mob action,” said a Jan. 6 tweet from Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas. “If institutions of order & lawful transitions of authority are systematically deconstructed & trampled upon by factional self-interests, it leads to just that, a mob. Let the elected govern.”
“There are few words that can describe the shock I feel to see our Capitol building occupied by violent rioters,” said a Jan. 6 tweet by Bishop Frank T. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Conn. “As Americans, we should be deeply disturbed to see an important symbol of freedom and liberty in our nation violated in such a way. Our nation is better than that.”
“Today’s scene of rioting at the U.S. Capitol as Congress sought to affirm the Electoral College results is anathema to who we are as Americans and to our Judeo-Christian values,” said a Jan. 6 statement by the New York State Catholic Conference, which represents the state’s bishops in matters of public policy. “We have already seen loss of human life. This must end. This is not who we are.”
“Let’s pray for President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris as they prepare to serve our nation in their elected offices,” said a Jan. 7 tweet from Bishop Michael F. Olson of Fort Worth, Texas. “Let us ask the Lord for peace and the order of right reason during this transition.”
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception issued a short tweet Jan. 6: “Let us pray for peace in our nation. Mary Immaculate, pray for us!”
“The political violence witnessed today at our nation’s Capitol underscores the urgency for a total recalibration of American politics centered on the dignity and flourishing of the human person,” said a Jan. 6 statement from Catherine Glenn Foster, president and CEO of Americans United for Life. “Our country’s season of unrest and violence must come to an end.”
“The words and actions of our president have directly led his supporters to sedition and insurrection,” said a Jan. 6 statement from Sister Simone Campbell, a member of the Sisters of Social Service and executive director of Network, the Catholic social justice lobby. “We the people are for the common good. Our nation is better than this, and I expect all of our elected officials to denounce these crimes.”