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Cardinal O'Malley encourages peace, unity after violence at U.S. Capitol


President Donald Trump supporters breach the U.S. Capitol in Washington Jan. 6, 2021, during a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 presidential election. (CNS photo/Ahmed Gaber, Reuters)

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BRAINTREE -- In the wake of the assault on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of outgoing President Donald G. Trump, Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley released a statement Dec. 7 rejecting "all forms of violence" and encouraging unity at a time of stark division.

On Jan. 6, Trump supporters bore down on the Capitol building to disrupt the counting of the Electoral College votes, which confirmed President-elect Joe Biden's victory. Lawmakers were rushed to safety as the mob broke in. Pictures showed protesters occupying, looting, and vandalizing offices.

"The violence witnessed in our nation's capital yesterday serves only to inflame our divisions and pit citizen against citizen at a time we need to be united," Cardinal O'Malley said in his statement.

The cardinal echoed the words of the Prayer of St. Francis: "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace."

"It is peace we need in our nation today, united by the common good of our people," he said.

Cardinal O'Malley offered his prayers for those who were injured or killed as well as their families. According to the Associated Press, one woman was shot and killed by police, and three other people died of medical emergencies.

"We reject all forms of violence including the acts of those who stormed our Capitol. We pray for those who lost their lives and for their loved ones and for the injured," Cardinal O'Malley said.

Acknowledging the upcoming inauguration of President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, the cardinal said that the recovery from the events of the previous day "will require the best talents of our civic leaders."

"In the spirit of what makes America a beacon of light and democracy for the entire world we must set aside our divisions and together go about the work of helping to lift people out of poverty, healing the sick, welcoming the immigrant and address systemic racism, and many other tasks," Cardinal O'Malley said.

Other American bishops also condemned the violence in the capital, including Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"This is not who we are as Americans. I am praying for members of Congress and Capitol staff and for the police and all those working to restore order and public safety," Archbishop Gomez said in a Jan. 6 statement.

He said 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," he said.

Below is the full text of the statement:

The beginning of the Prayer of St. Francis is familiar to most of us: "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace". And it is peace we need in our nation today, united by the common good of our people. The violence witnessed in our nation's capital yesterday serves only to inflame our divisions and pit citizen against citizen at a time we need to be united. We reject all forms of violence including the acts of those who stormed our Capitol. We pray for those who lost their lives and for their loved ones and for the injured. We live in a divided nation and the challenges our nation faces are significant.

Our recovery from yesterday's assault will require the best talents of our civic leaders. Very soon President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris will be sworn in to lead our country. In the spirit of what makes America a beacon of light and democracy for the entire world we must set aside our divisions and together go about the work of helping to lift people out of poverty, healing the sick, welcoming the immigrant and address systemic racism, and many other tasks.

Let us heed the words of St. Francis' simple prayer: "where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy."

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