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Remember when Bp. Mark J. Seitz of El Paso knelt in prayer while holding a poster honoring Black Lives Matter (BLM), the leftist anti-Christian movement that burned down neighborhoods and assailed public order throughout 2020? Remember the incendiaries who destroyed businesses, robbed and looted while leaving dozens dead? Remember that Pope Francis called Bp. Seitz to thank him for taking a knee in support of BLM?
In the wake of the storming of the U.S. Capitol, America's Catholic bishops condemned violent protesters, but only when they happened to support President Donald Trump, joining leftists and the media in describing them as a "mob." For instance: "The gospel itself is a full-throated and stern warning against mob action. If institutions of order and lawful transitions of authority are systematically deconstructed and trampled upon by factional self-interests, it leads to just that, a mob. Let the elected govern," stated Bp. Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Texas.
A naturalized U.S. citizen, Abp. José Gomez of Los Angeles, who also presides over the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, declared:
I join people of goodwill in condemning the violence today at the United States Capitol. 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 ... I entrust all of us to the heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. May she guide us in the ways of peace and obtain for us wisdom and the grace of a true patriotism and love of country.
Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C. stated:
Our United States Capitol is sacred ground and a place where people over the past centuries have rightly demonstrated, representing a wide variety of opinions. We Americans should honor the place where our nation's laws and policies are debated and decided. We should feel violated when the legacy of freedom enshrined in that building is disrespected and desecrated.
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, while pointing out that he had denounced arson and destruction at the hands of BLM and Antifa last year, said, "To attack the U.S. Capitol to express your fear that democracy has been denied is wrong and also counterproductive. Doubts about free and fair elections cannot be redressed by violence against democratic institutions ... I call on every American of goodwill to denounce this violence against our nation's Capitol."
While one can heartily agree that no bishop should kneel to reverence to either Black Lives Matter or "Stop the steal," it is apparent that the bishops frequently do take sides in political matters and that they do so in the direction set out by the Washington Post and the New York Times. Pious and scolding in their broadsides against laity who have the courage to protest a manifestly fraudulent election, the bishops have proven themselves once again to be progressives who adjust their sails to prevailing political winds.
Thousands of Antifa and BLM supporters marched this summer, burning their way through neighborhoods after the unarmed, habitual criminal George Floyd was arrested and died in the custody of Minneapolis police. The Catholic bishops joined the media and shills for the Democratic Party in expressing shock at the killing, while authorities stood by as rioting, looting and burning became the favored means of political expression by the Left. Could it have been any surprise to Catholic bishops when leftists were given permission to loot and burn that others would feel justified to take the same path?
But perhaps the most striking absence in the bishops' pious word was a prayer for the soul of Ashli Babbitt — the unarmed 14-year Air Force veteran who was shot to death at the Capitol by a plainclothes police officer, in cold blood and at close range. Yes, she was unarmed, just like George Floyd. But this time, there is no doubt about the cause of death as it was in Floyd's demise. And this time, the victim was not one of those favored by the Left, legacy media and the bishops.
Bill Donohue of the Catholic League condemned Wednesday's violence, just as he had condemned the violence that marred much of 2020. When one side riots with impunity, Donohue wrote, "it inspires the aggrieved on the other side to act accordingly." Also worthy of condemnation, he wrote, are "those who refused to denounce last year's rioters but are now exercised over this year's rioters. Selective indignation is morally offensive."
Even while many bishops urged Catholics to understand the root causes of anger that fueled division, hatred and arson in 2020, no such understanding was solicited for the hundreds of thousands who went to Washington, D.C. to register their disgust over the conduct of the election and the triumph of "Catholic" Joe Biden, who has promised to foster abortion and the LGBT agenda.
Anyone who riots, regardless of their objectives, should face the law and fellow citizens' opprobrium. In this, the bishops should show the way for Catholics and the rest of Americans. Failure to do so undermines any residual moral suasion they may have after decades of shielding pedophiles and pro-abortion politicians such as Joe Biden. The bishops' irenic pronouncements following the events at the Capitol are just more evidence of their failure to offer prophetic witness, even at the cost of their comfort and status.