In wake of Trump comments, DC archbishop calls for ‘respect for all’

Responding to recent comments by President Donald Trump about Baltimore and a group of four congresswomen, Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory said Thursday that “the growing plague of offense and disrespect in speech and actions must end.”

Gregory said in a statement issued by the Diocese of Washington that “recent public comments by our president and others and the responses they have generated, have deepened divisions and diminished our national life.”

The archbishop said that while he’s been “doing a lot of listening and learning” in his time in D.C., and that he’s “a pastor and fellow disciple of Jesus, not a political leader,” he added that there are times when he is “called to speak out to defend the dignity of all God’s children.”

“Our faith teaches us that respect for people of every race, religion, gender, ethnicity and background are requirements of fundamental human dignity and basic decency,” Gregory said. “This include[s] newcomers to our country, people who have differing political views and people who may be different from us.”

Archbishop designated by Pope Francis to the Archdiocese of Washington, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory speaks during a news conference at Washington Archdiocesan Pastoral Center in Hyattsville, Md., Thursday, April 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

He added that he and Baltimore Archbishop William Lori are “in sadness and deep regret for the ways our Maryland neighbors in Baltimore have been denigrated in recent public attacks.”

Last month, Trump more than once said that four Democratic congresswomen of color should “go back” where they came from – ignoring that all are Americans, three of the four were born in the U.S. and the other arrived in the country at age 10. Trump also called Baltimore, part of which is a part of Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings’ district, a “disgusting, rodent and rat infested” place where “no human being would want to live.”

Gregory said he met with church leaders, including leaders of the Knights of Columbus, and encouraged them “to seek to promote respect for all, the common good and humble dialogue in a time of growing and destructive divisions.”

He added, “We must all take responsibility to reject language that ridicules, condemns or vilifies another person because of their race, religion, gender, age, culture or ethnic background. Such discourse has no place on the lips of those who confess Christ or who claim to be civilized members of society.”

Gregory concluded, “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.”

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

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