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Rome Reports

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Arch. Wilton Gregory calls Pres. Trump's visit to JP2 Shrine “a photo opportunity”


The Archbishop of Washington, Wilton Gregory, has condemned President Donald Trump's visit to the John Paul II National Shrine in D.C., saying "I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles."

President Trump visited the shrine Tuesday to sign an "executive order on international freedom." 

Archbishop Gregory recalled the pope saying, “Saint Pope John Paul II was an ardent defender of the rights and dignity of human beings. His legacy bears vivid witness to that truth. He certainly would not condone the use of tear gas and other deterrents to silence, scatter or intimidate them for a photo opportunity in front of a place of worship and peace.”

President Trump, on the other hand, publicly retweeted an article by “The Federalist” which states tear gas was not used against protesters. 

Melania Trump also took to Twitter to show the visit to the shrine. She said she and her husband, "honored the life and legacy of Saint John Paul II." She continued that "his passion and dedication for religious freedom is a legacy that we must protect for people around the world. They visited on the 41st anniversary of Pope John Paul Il’s first pilgrimage to Poland.” 

The shrine has also issued a statement regarding the visit: “The White House originally scheduled this as an event for the president to sign an executive order on international religious freedom. This was fitting given Saint John Paul II was a tireless advocate of religious liberty throughout his pontificate. International religious freedom receives widespread bipartisan support, including unanimous passage of legislation in defense of persecuted Christians and religious minorities around the world. The Shrine welcomes all people to come and pray and learn about the legacy of Saint John Paul II.”

Wilton Gregory is the only African-American archbishop in the United States and has always been a notable voice for the African-American community.

He will participate in an online discussion on “Racism in Our Streets and Structures - A Test of Faith, A Crisis for Our Nation” on Friday, June 5, at Georgetown University.

Melissa Butz