After Mass Shootings, Bishops Criticize Trump’s Rhetoric

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by David Nussman  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  August 7, 2019   

Bp. Mark Seitz, Abp. García-Siller suggest Trump's divisive rhetoric contributes to hatred, violence

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DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - Two U.S. bishops are laying blame on the president's rhetoric following two mass shootings.

After the shootings this weekend in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, some accused President Donald Trump's rhetoric of contributing to the rise of extremism and violence. Among those making this charge are Catholic bishops.

In an interview with Crux, Bp. Mark Seitz of El Paso argued that President Trump should "examine himself and the kind of rhetoric that contributes to the hatred of a whole group of people."

Bishop Seitz also criticized Trump's opinion that mass shooters should get the death penalty, saying, "[V]iolence just leads to more violence."

Bp. Mark Seitz of El Paso argued that President Trump should 'examine himself and the kind of rhetoric that contributes to the hatred of a whole group of people.'

In one of several now-deleted tweets, Abp. Gustavo García-Siller of San Antonio, Texas, called the president "a very poor man, a very week [sic] man," adding, "Stop damaging people, please!"

Another one of the tweets stated, "President, stop your hatred. People in the US deserve better."

"Stop hate and racism, starting with yourself," he said in yet another tweet directed at the president.

In addition to deleting the anti-Trump tweets, Abp. García-Siller issued an apology to the people of the San Antonio archdiocese in a video statement on Tuesday, saying in part, "I regret that my recent tweet remarks were not focused on the issues but on an individual."

In one part of the statement, the archbishop called for prayers for the communities afflicted by mass shootings.

But he also continued speaking about the subject of racist rhetoric, saying, "There is growing fear and harassment, and at times American public discourse uses rhetoric that instigates fear against foreigners, immigrants and refugees."

Back in January 2018, Abp. García-Siller kicked three Poor Clare nuns out of the San Antonio archdiocese, sending them back to their motherhouse in Alabama.

The move was viewed by some as an act of retaliation. The nuns were tied to Our Lady of Atonement Church, a parish originally founded by a former Episcopalian minister turned Catholic priest.

The parish was under the authority of the San Antonio archdiocese from its founding; but after a dispute that went on for several years, the parish joined the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter in March 2017 — to the chagrin of Abp. García-Siller.

Archbishop García-Siller was born in Mexico. He entered the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, was sent to minister to migrants in California and was ordained a priest subsequently. He was consecrated an auxiliary bishop in the Chicago archdiocese in 2003 under Cdl. Francis George.

A Chicago priest, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Church Militant his thoughts on Abp. García-Siller, saying, "Of all things Cdl. Francis George did wrong was to make García a bishop."

The priest noted that many clergy were upset that a priest could immigrate to a new country and be consecrated bishop there, in lieu of a local priest being made bishop.

Bishop Seitz and Abp. García-Siller are not the first U.S. prelates to charge that Trump's rhetoric is a contributing factor to division, hatred and violence.

Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C. claimed in an Aug. 1 statement, "I fear that recent public comments by our President and others and the responses they have generated, have deepened divisions and diminished our national life."

"In particular," he explained, "I join my brother Archbishop William Lori in sadness and deep regret for the ways our Maryland neighbors in Baltimore have been denigrated in recent public attacks."

These comments from Abp. Gregory — part of his first public statement as head of the Washington, D.C. archdiocese — were in response to a tweet from President Trump referring to parts of Baltimore as "a rat and rodent infested mess."

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