'Shameful moment in history': Sisters react to insurrection at US Capitol

President Donald Trump supporters storm into the U.S. Capitol in Washington Jan. 6 during a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 presidential election. (CNS/Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)

President Donald Trump supporters storm into the U.S. Capitol in Washington Jan. 6 during a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 presidential election. (CNS/Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)

by Dan Stockman

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dstockman@ncronline.org

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Editor's note: This roundup was updated Jan. 8 with statements from the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Illinois; the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville, Kentucky; and the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It was updated again Jan. 11 with a new statement from the Adrian Dominicans and statements from the Dominican Sisters of Hope; the Congregation of St. Joseph; the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph; the Union of Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana.

Sisters across the nation responded to the Jan. 6 attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, calling for prayers, peace and, in some cases, new leadership.

But the Adrian Dominicans went a step further than their usual advocacy for issues.

"Today, with heavy hearts, we depart from our accustomed role of issue advocacy to take the unprecedented step of adding our voice, as religious leaders, to those of others in the civic life of our nation who call for the immediate removal of the sitting President of the United States," they wrote in a Jan. 8 statement. The declaration came after an earlier statement, below, calling for prayer.

Calling the violence "alarming, heart-sickening and treacherous insurrection," the order from Adrian, Michigan, said its call for President Donald Trump's removal was required because he had exhorted his supporters at a rally to march on the Capitol.

"The President who incited this insurrection must be held accountable for his seditious acts," the statement said.

Leadership Conference of Women Religious

"The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) joins with the world in praying for peace after witnessing the violence and lawlessness yesterday in our nation's capital. We are deeply concerned about the state of our country and the future of our democracy. Our hearts ached as we watched these despicable actions that threaten not only to destroy the seat of our government but to rend the bonds that unite us. We commend and thank the members of Congress who courageously continued their service to the nation last night even amid the chaos.

"In our increasingly divided nation, we renew our commitment to the common good and pledge to take up the challenge to use our energy to repair our democracy and contribute to the work of building a more perfect union. We invite all people of good will to join us and we call on our elected leaders to point the way."

Read the statement here.

Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

"As representatives of Maryknoll missioners and as citizens of the United States, we are appalled that a violent mob has stormed the U.S. Capitol Building in an attempt to disrupt the ceremonial counting of the electoral votes that confirms President-elect Joe Biden's win. We condemn all acts of violence and attempts to subvert the exercise of democracy through a free and fair election. 

"We call on President Trump and elected officials to condemn the disgraceful behavior witnessed today at the Capitol and to leave behind the hateful rhetoric, false claims, and failures in leadership that have led to it. We call on elected officials to practice civility, promote respect and unity, and pursue the kind of 'political charity' named by Pope Francis in Fratelli Tutti. ...

"We pray for the safety of all people at the U.S. Capitol Building and for the future of our country."

Read the entire statement here.

Adrian Dominicans

"Like other Americans around the country, we are horrified by the events at the Capitol, iconic home of our nation's representative government. ...

"We pray that this shameful moment in history will spur us all to come together as a people, e pluribus unum, committed to the ideals of our democracy, united in our diversity."

Read the entire statement here.

Grand Rapids Dominicans

"We Dominican Sisters-Grand Rapids are grieved at the events unfolding in our nation's capitol. As we watch and listen to what is happening in Washington, DC, we hold our nation, citizens, and elected leaders in prayer. We condemn the violent actions that seek to destroy the confirmation of our democratically elected President-elect and Vice-President-elect and, ultimately, our democracy."

Read the entire statement here.

Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Illinois

The congregation issued this statement:

"On January 7th people in the United States awoke to a new reality—but not one without hope. It is possible now, for all of us to see as clearly as we ever have the fault lines that divide our nation. We firmly believe it is also possible to heal them.

"The assault on truth and the democratic rule of law at the U.S. Congress on January 6 revealed the depths to which a nation can fall when its leaders are blinded by hunger for privilege and power at the expense of their own dignity, the dignity of all its people, and the common good. ...

"What we witnessed January 6 in our most sacred civic space has revealed an urgent need to forge a path for the renewal of our sacred bonds as members of a nation whose highest ideals—if we are honest—have never yet in our nation's story been equitably made available to all. ...

"When we as a nation acknowledge our historic failings and recommit our energies toward assuring sacred treasured rights for all, we can begin anew the process of building a republic of citizens, recognizing one another as a people, indivisible, who uphold our common desire for liberty and justice for all."

Read the entire statement here.

Ursuline Sisters of Louisville, Kentucky

The congregation issued this statement:

"Together with many other Americans across the country, we were horrified by the tragic events that unfolded at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. We grieve for the loss of life that occurred and condemn the violence and lawlessness of those involved. ...

"Our nation is divided. We commit ourselves to prayer for peace and healing for our country and to work for the common good. President Abraham Lincoln, who led our country through the most divided period of its history, said, 'We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.'

"Let us all appeal to our better angels as we strive to form a more perfect union, together."

Read the entire statement here.

Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

"We, the Leadership Council of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Monroe, Mich., were stunned and heartbroken at the insurrection that took place at the United States Capitol as our members of Congress voted to confirm the results of a free and fair election. ... While we are grateful that violence was minimal, we mourn with the families of the four individuals whose lives were needlessly lost as a result.

"In our Chapter 2018 direction, IHM Sisters and Associates committed ourselves to engaging in respectful conversation with those who are seen as different because of our political loyalties. What unfolded at the Capitol is the direct result of unchecked hyper-partisan hostility fomented by false claims of wide-spread voter fraud perpetuated by President Trump and enabled for too long by members of his own party. While we must begin the difficult work ahead of healing the deep wounds of our nation, we cannot do so unless our nation's leaders lead by example and publicly acknowledge the legitimacy of this election, firmly disavow election conspiracy theories and urge their supporters to do the same. ...

"We invite all people of good will to join us and we call on our elected leaders to point the way."

Read the entire statement here.

Dominican Sisters of Hope

"In this attempted coup, white supremacists terrorized the Capitol building, government officials, and the American people. The seditionists have come forward as supporters of President Trump, and they are supported by him.

"We denounce the violence, corruption, deceit, hunger for power, and racism that have led to this moment. We call on our fellow citizens to engage in dialogue that considers other perspectives, to remain open to change and compromise, and work to build a nation that is united.

"We look forward to a peaceful transfer of power on January 20, 2021. Further, we Look forward to all Americans coming together with a renewed commitment to the ideals on which our nation was founded."

Read the entire statement here.

Congregation of St. Joseph

"We are heartbroken by the words and violent acts that seek to divide us, and lift our hearts in prayer for peace and in hope that we will find a way to repair fractured relationships and restore justice where it is most needed.

"We condemn these acts of violence, and once again implore all citizens and elected leaders to work to end the rampant rage and division that have overpowered our nation. We are a country that promises a life free from fear, and yet we seem unable to stop the epidemic of hate that has overwhelmed us. We pray that we will be able to come together as one people, and reclaim our unity as a nation."

Read the entire statement here.

U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph

"We are deeply concerned about the state of our country and the future of our democracy. Our hearts ached as we watched white nationalists participate in these despicable actions that threaten not only to destroy our government but to rend the bonds that unite us. We commend and thank the members of Congress and staff who courageously continued their service to the nation last night even amid the chaos, as well as the law enforcement who helped protect and secure the building ...

"In our increasingly divided nation, we are saddened but not surprised by the predictable outcome of yesterday's events. ...

"We feel each of us are asked to pause, reflect, and grapple with the history and legacy that brought us to this historic moment of white domestic terrorists attempting to take over our legislative branch. As Christians, we cannot ignore the images of the cross and flags bearing Jesus' name that peppered yesterday's scene. We cannot ignore the juxtaposition of the law enforcement response to yesterday's violence at the Capitol versus the violence inflicted on Black Lives Matter protestors in June. We invite all people of good will to reflect on the next steps we must take to repair our democracy, eliminate white privilege, and contribute to the work of building a more perfect union."

Read the entire statement here.

Union of Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

"We ... were horrified and heartbroken at the assault on the US Capitol while the members of Congress were exercising their Constitutional duty of confirming the results of a free and fair election. ...

"We mourn the needless loss of life and are desolated by the lack of accountability of those who hold positions of leadership. ... We will work with others to do justice and proclaim the Gospel message of hope and peace during this time of great pain and division.

"We call on all people to join us in prayer for unity, healing, and reconciliation and to encourage our newly elected leadership to lead the way to a more civil society grounded in mutual respect and collaboration."

Read the entire statement here.

Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods

The congregation in Terre Haute, Indiana, issued a joint statement with the InterFaith Council of the Wabash Valley:

"We of diverse religious faiths and humanitarian belief systems join with ... so many others in our country in condemning Wednesday's display of hate and violence against people and property as well as our democratic institutions and processes. We hope and pray that our country will return to a politics guided by wisdom, facts and truths. ...

"May we work untiringly to acknowledge our own complicity in those attitudes, actions and words which perpetuate violence.

We urge all faith communities to unite in support of others who follow different faith and belief systems based in tolerance and respect, with the hope that followers of all faiths will stay true to their founding principles of love, acceptance, compassion, charity, mercy and hope."

Read the entire statement here. The congregation previously posted to Facebook:

"Please join us in praying for peace for our country during this tumultuous time. God instructs us to 'Love each other as I have loved you.' John 15:12. Share this prayer for non-violence with friends and family."

Sr. Julia Walsh

Walsh, a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, tweeted:

"God of hope and mercy, we pray tonight that you restore safety, civility and order across the land of the USA. Protect members of congress, Holy One, so that they can fulfill their constitutional duties. Be with all who are impacted by the chaos. Send us peace. Amen."

Sr. Simone Campbell

Campbell, a Sister of Social Service and executive director of the Catholic social justice lobby Network, participated in a video call with President-elect Joe Biden and many other faith leaders the evening of Jan. 6.

She also tweeted:

"I've walked through the Capitol many times. It's where elected officials, staff and advocates show up day after day to work for the good of our country. That's what they did today until violent Trump supporters terrorized the Capitol and launched a violent attack on our democracy.

"This evil movement revolves around Donald Trump's baseless claims and holds his racist, discriminatory unjust policies as its only deity. Today and for years to come, every American must answer this hateful, white supremacist effort to subvert a fair election with total rejection.

"We the People oppose this violence — both the physical violence at the Capitol and the social and spiritual violence of governing with racist and exclusionary policies."

On Jan. 7, Network released a statement calling for Trump to be removed from office:

"The Constitution protects our rights and dignity as humans created in the image of God. We have a Constitutional remedy that holds unfit Presidents accountable. The 25th Amendment must be immediately invoked to hold President Trump accountable for his actions and remove him from office. The Catholic advocates of NETWORK call on Vice President Pence and the Cabinet to do their faithful duty to the nation and invoke the 25th Amendment now."

Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Dubuque, Iowa

The Iowa congregation posted on Facebook:

"Let us pray to God that we will resolve our nation's differences using peaceful means and not fighting each other."

Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur

The Ohio province posted on Facebook:

"The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur ask you to join us in prayer for peace in Washington, D.C. May the Prince of Peace, Jesus, send His spirit upon all and open our hearts to love."

Sr. Susan Francois

Francois, a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace, has been tweeting prayers to Trump since the beginning of his presidency. In a Jan. 6 tweet, she called on him to resign:

"You have created this shameful & dangerous storming of [the] Capitol. You need to speak out and tell them to stand down. Then you should resign. You swore to uphold constitution. You are subverting it instead. I have been praying for you for four years. Now I just say enough!"

[Dan Stockman is national correspondent for Global Sisters Report. His email address is dstockman@ncronline.org. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.]

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