WASHINGTON —Following the violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, and reports of an FBI bulletin warning of “armed protests” in state capitals and Washington, DC, in the coming week, including groups urging participants to “storm” state capitols and other government buildings and threatening “a huge uprising,” as well as reports of threats against lawmakers and their families, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, urged peace.
The full statement is as follows:
“Like Pope Francis, after viewing the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, I was ‘astonished’: a violent attack on a peaceful political process at the heart of our democracy, bombs placed at political party headquarters, the murder of a police officer and others dead and injured, symbols of racial hatred, calls to execute politicians, a gallows and a noose. There were those present who misappropriated Christian symbols as well. There must be accountability for these actions.
“As a Christian, I must say to anyone considering further violence: you are being led astray by a voice that is not from God. St. Paul gave us a reliable test of what is from God and what is not.
. . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Gal 5:22-23).
“Please look into your heart. Look at the images of the events on January 6. Look at the messages that accompanied them on social media. Look at the symbols of racial hatred in the crowd. If you supported this, or are considering further actions in the coming week, ask: is what I intend the fruit of the Holy Spirit? Are my intentions expressions of love for others, including those I may consider enemies? Are they reflections of joy? Will they lead to peace? Do they exhibit patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control? The violence of January 6, and the many voices that urged it on, including some political leaders, were the opposite of these things.
“St. Paul names what is opposed to the Spirit: “…hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions…” (Gal. 5:20). Do not listen to those sowing hatred, anger, and divisions! They lead you away from God. Though sometimes masked in deceit or seemingly demanded by fear, for your sake and the sake of others, do not mistake empty promises for the love and peace that come only from God.”
Since November 2019, the USCCB has urged peaceful and civil public discourse around politics through the Civilize It! campaign.