Washington’s Catholic Archbishop strongly criticised President Donald Trump‘s visit to a shrine as civil unrest continues in the US over the death of a black man in police custody.
The visit “misused” and “manipulated” the Saint John Paul II National Shrine, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory said, adding that he found it “baffling and reprehensible”.
Anger over the killing of George Floyd as well as systemic injustice are fuelling protests, film-maker Spike Lee told the BBC in an interview.
On Monday Mr Trump threatened to send in the military to quell disturbances, vowing to “dominate the streets.”
Peaceful and violent protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25 May continued overnight.
The president said that he would deploy the army if cities and states failed to control the protests.
But on Tuesday at least one city mayor rejected the use of National Guard and military forces.
Presidential candidate Joe Biden criticised Mr Trump for using the crisis to appeal to his supporters, saying he was “serving the passions of his base”.
Dozens of people have been injured as authorities used tear gas and force to disperse protests which have swept more than 75 cities.
On Tuesday the Las Vegas sheriff said an officer died in a shooting after police attempted to disperse a crowd, and four officers were injured on Monday in St Louis, Missouri.
What have religious leaders said?
In a statement ahead of the president’s visit to the Saint John Paul II National Shrine, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory said it violated the church’s religious principles.
Catholics should defend the rights of all people, he said.
The archbishop also condemned the forceful clearing of protestors outside the White House on Monday to allow Mr Trump to visit a church where he held a bible in front of gathered press.
Saint John Paul “would not condone the use of tear gas and other deterrents to silence, scatter or intimidate [protestors] for a photo opportunity in front of a place of worship,” he commented.