Washington, D.C. Archbishop Wilton Gregory said Tuesday it was “baffling and reprehensible” that the Saint John Paul II National Shrine would allow itself to be “manipulated” ahead of President Donald Trump’s planned visit to the memorial.
Trump visited the Catholic shrine one day after he walked from the White House to St. John’s Church, which was set on fire amid protests on Sunday.
U.S. Park Police cleared the way for Trump to walk to the church Monday. Numerous news outlets reported that Park Police used tear gas to clear out the protesters ahead of Trump’s stroll to the historic church.
The Park Police did not respond to the Daily Caller when asked Tuesday to clarify whether or not it launched tear gas at peaceful protesters to clear the way for Trump.
“I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people even those with whom we might disagree,” Gregory said Tuesday.
“Saint Pope John Paul II was an ardent defender of the rights and dignity of human beings,” Gregory said. “He certainly would not condone the use of tear gas and other deterrents to silence, scatter or intimidate them for a photo opportunity in front of a place of worship and peace.”
Gregory has no authority over the shrine as it is run by the Knights of Columbus, according to the Washington Examiner.
WATCH: President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump visit the Saint John Paul II national shrine pic.twitter.com/7JbjDjeBeV
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) June 2, 2020
The Secret Service declined to clarify whether it used tear gas on protesters to clear the way for Trump’s visit to St. John’s Church on Monday. (RELATED: President Trump Walks Out Of White House, Holds Up Bible In Front Of St. John’s Church Amid Protests)
“For operational security reasons, the U.S. Secret Service does not discuss our protectees or our protective means and methods,” the Secret Service said, according to WTOP reporter Neal Augenstein.
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