Wilton Gregory, Roman Catholic archbishop of Washington, D.C., apparently did not check with the St. Pope John Paul II National Shrine before blasting the president's visit to the Catholic site on Tuesday as "reprehensible."
As it turned out, President Donald Trump's visit to the shrine was meant as a "lead in" to something he did later in the day, which was very much in accord with the mission of the shrine honoring the late Pope (1978-2005) who was made a saint in 2013 — the signing of an executive order to advance international religious freedom.
As the president and first lady approached the shrine in Washington, Gregory's office issued a statement saying he found it "baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be egregiously misused and manipulated in a way that violates our religious principles that call us to defend the rights of all people — even those with whom we might disagree."
Gregory hailed St. Pope John Paul II as "an ardent defender of the rights and dignity of human beings" and insisted the first Polish Pope "would not condone the use of tear gas and other deterrents to silence, scatter, or intimidate them in order for a photo op in front of a place of worship and peace."
In a subsequent statement, the shrine pointed out the Trump’s visit was scheduled "as an event for the president to sign an executive order on international religious freedom."
The shrine called the visit "fitting," recalling St. Pope John Paul II as "a tireless advocate of religious liberty throughout this pontificate."
Underscoring that the cause of international religious freedom "receives widespread bipartisan support," the shrine called for unanimous passage of legislation in defense of persecuted Christians and religious minorities around the world.
In an obvious reference to Gregory's criticism of Trump's visit, the Shrine said it "welcomes all people to come and pray and learn about the legacy of Saint John Paul II."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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