Washington archbishop takes on US president

Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington has spoken out against the racist, divisive tweets President Donald Trump has been making about his critics in Congress.

Defending his right to voice his concerns, Gregory says there are times “when a pastor and a disciple of Jesus is called to speak out to defend the dignity of all God’s children.

“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.

“As an American, a Christian, a Catholic pastor, I pray that our President, other national leaders and all Americans will do all we can to respect the dignity of all God’s children and nothing to further divide our nation.

“The growing plague of offence and disrespect in speech and actions must end.”

Over the past month Trump has made a number of bigoted comments.

As an example, he told four progressive Democratic congresswomen to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

The tweet was seen as a reference to three women who were born in the US. The fourth woman, Ilhan Omar, came to the US as a Somali refugee and is a naturalised US citizen.

Trump’s tweet was the focal point of a rally in North Carolina several days later. Audience members chanted “Send her back!” in reference to Omar.

Trump the next day said he “was not happy” with the chant and disagreed with it.

Then he took to Twitter and verbally attacked an African-American Congress member, Elijah Cummings, one of Baltimore’s Democratic representatives and a frequent critic of the President.

Cummings became a target of Trump’s tweets after he spoke plainly about the unacceptable Mexican border conditions during a congressional hearing.

He had also launched a number of investigations into Trump’s finances and White House practices, including security clearances and Hatch Act violations.

In response, Trump tweeted that Cummings’s district, (which includes much of Baltimore City), is a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess”.

“Conditions in Baltimore are “far worse and more dangerous” than those at the US-Mexico border, Trump’s tweets continued.

Other religious leaders in Maryland’s Ecumenical Leaders’ Group have sent a joint letter to Trump, calling his tweets a “slur” against the city and “horrible, demeaning and beneath the dignity of a political leader who should be encouraging us all to strive and work for a more civil, just and compassionate society.”

The letter also included an invitation for Trump to visit and see the good being done in the city.


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