Priests in the Archdiocese of Washington have expressed concern after they were invited to join a protest outside the White House.
The invitation from Fr Daniel B. Carson, vicar general and moderator of the curia of the archdiocese, asked priests to “join the Catholic faithful in a public witness to pray for the soul of George Floyd and the soul of America.”
In the email, which was seen by CNA, Carson said the priests would “pray and move with Christian solidarity to lift our country up in prayer.”
“Let us gather to rededicate ourselves to the defense of all life and recommit ourselves to an anti-racism agenda,” Carson added.
Clergy who decided to attend Monday’s protest were instructed to “wear cassock, habit, or black clerical shirt,” and to bring a bottle of water, a mask, and a hat, as well as “appropriate signs/posters.” The email added that “social distancing may be difficult, so do not forget your mask.”
CNA said that although several websites reported that the archdiocese had ordered priests to attend the protest, the email merely contained an invitation to attend.
However, several priests expressed concern over the invitation. Two priests, who spoke anonymously, said the email was “very unexpected” and not consistent with current diocesan guidelines on social distancing.
“We have been told for weeks that we cannot meet groups of the faithful, open our churches, serve in our parishes. Now they want us to take to the streets,” one priest said.
Another priest who planned to attend the event said he was worried photographs of priests in clericals protesting outside the White House could be used for partisan purposes.
“I’ve been a priest here for more than a decade,” he said. “I cannot remember ever being invited to wear a cassock to a public event organized by the chancery. It seems like they [just] want some good pictures.”
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