The Catholic archbishop of Washington has lashed out at US President Donald Trump for visiting a shrine, amid continued civil unrest over the death of a black private security guard in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25.
The visit “misused” and “manipulated” the Saint John Paul II National Shrine, Archbishop Wilton D Gregory said.
He said he found the president’s action “baffling and reprehensible”.
On Monday, Mr. Trump threatened to send in the military to quell the unrest, vowing to “dominate the streets.”
Peaceful and violent protests triggered by the killing of forty-six-year-old George Floyd continued overnight.
The president warned he would send in the army if cities and states failed to control the protests.
But in his criticism of Mr. Trump’s visit to the Shrine, Archbishop Gregory said it violated the church’s religious principles.
Catholics should defend the rights of all people, he said.
The archbishop, the first African-American to head the diocese, also condemned the forceful clearing of protesters outside the White House on Monday to allow Mr. Trump to visit a church where he held a Bible in front of assembled media.
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 remarked.
Washington’s Episcopalian bishop, Mariann Budde, also condemned the president’s actions.
In the UK, the archbishops of York and Canterbury said the unrest exposed “the ongoing evil of white supremacy”.
In his own response, Democratic Presidential candidate, Joe Biden, condemned Mr. Trump for using the crisis to appeal to his supporters, saying he was “serving the passions of his base”.
Dozens of people have so far been injured as police and National Guard used tear gas and force to disperse protests which have swept more than seventy-five 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.