January 8, 2021, Adrian, Michigan – In response to President Donald Trump’s incitement of his followers to violence at the U.S. Capitol, the General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters issued the following statement:
As leaders of a Catholic congregation of more than 500 Dominican Sisters whose lives are committed through public vows to following the Way of Jesus, our involvement in the political discourse of our nation has always been focused on advancing the common good of God’s people and planet through issue advocacy, aligned with our Gospel values.
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.
The alarming, heart-sickening and treacherous insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 not only endangered our elected leaders and their staffs but also held hostage our democratic process of ratifying the election of the President of the United States. The attack on the Capitol left five persons dead and caused grave injury to others. Carried out by Confederate-flag waving white supremacists, conspiracy theorists, and anti-Semitic extremists, among others, the riot was incited by President Donald J. Trump who exhorted his supporters at a rally near the White House to march to the Capitol, crying, “You will never take back our country with weakness.”
Rev. Bryan N. Massingale, a Black Catholic priest and professor of theological and social ethics at Fordham University, characterized the insurrection as “a racist attack on the nation’s capital” in a January 6 opinion piece in America bearing that title. He wrote:
We cannot feign surprise, because for years, the core of Mr. Trump’s appeal has been stoking white resentment at the changing face of America. What we saw today is a clear declaration that many white people would rather live in a white dictatorship than in a multiracial democracy. If democracy means sharing power with people of color, especially Black people, then they want no part of it. Today is the inevitable consequence of the nation’s tolerance of white racism.
The insurrectionists who subjected the Capitol and the nation to this harrowing assault must be sought out, apprehended and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. And the President who incited this insurrection must be held accountable for his seditious acts. But, as Rev. Massingale added:
… Trump is not solely responsible for this debacle. Here is where the wisdom of the Catholic moral tradition is achingly relevant. St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that one shares in the evil of another “by omitting the counsel that would have hindered the wrongdoing” and by “silence, by not preventing, by not denouncing.”
After prayerful discernment, we feel compelled to call on our elected leaders – Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow and Representative Tim Walberg, in particular – to act to remove President Trump from office, as the constitution provides, preventing him, at once, from any further exercise of the fearsome powers he holds.
Our nation must make clear to all present and future elected leaders, to our children and generations to come, and to the rest of the world that no person is above the law; that ours is a nation of liberty and justice for all, not only “for those who are white and angry,” as Rev. Massingale writes. Impunity must end.
We pray for the renewal of our democracy and its foundational nonpartisan values of freedom, equality, and justice for all. We pray that the deep love of family and friends we each hold in our hearts will enkindle a wider love of neighbor that stretches across all divides – political, social, racial – beckoning us to act for the common good of all God’s people.