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‘We stand at a moment of peril and promise’: Bishop Curry recalls the Capitol riots

07 January 2022


The Most Revd Michael Curry, addressing the nation on 6 January outside the Lincoln Memorial

The Most Revd Michael Curry, addressing the nation on 6 January outside the Lincoln Memorial

THE United States must wake up from the “nightmare” of the attack on the US Capitol building a year ago (News, 8 January 2021), the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Revd Michael Curry, said in a video address to the nation yesterday, as commemorative events were held in Washington, DC.

Standing by the monument of Abraham Lincoln, he said that the attack — at which supporters of the former President, Donald Trump, stormed the Capitol building in an attempt to force lawmakers to overturn the election result — was “also a revelation that there are forces intentionally seeking and working to divide us”.

And, in a rallying call, he said that the United States was standing at a “moral moment of spiritual peril and promise. . . Such a moment demands moral vision that is beyond mere self-interest and beholds the common good.”

He quoted the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who said: “If you want peace, do not talk to your friends, talk to your enemies.”

Bishop Curry also preached at an Epiphany service in Washington, DC, just east of the White House, in the morning.

In his sermon, he said: “One year ago . . . darkness descended [on] the land and Epiphany was eclipsed at the Capitol of the United States of America. And it occurred to me a few months ago that, whatever else goes on, we who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ must reclaim Epiphany.”

He said there was also a need to reclaim the symbols of Christianity, which had been co-opted by some of the rioters.

“We saw the Capitol of the United States of America breached, the temple of democracy desecrated. . . We saw symbols of Christianity used to perpetuate the desecration,” he said. “We must reclaim it by choosing the light.”

Later in the day, he also offered a prayer at a candle-lit vigil with members of Congress on the steps of the Capitol.

Five people died in the 6 January attack or shortly afterwards.

President Biden used the anniversary to launch an excoriating attack on Donald Trump in a televised address, though he did not mention Mr Trump by name.

“The former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election,” he said. “His bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our constitution. For the first time in our history, a president had not just lost an election: he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol. . . I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of democracy.”

It was his harshest attack yet on the former president and the Republications who still support him, and marks a shift in tone from his earlier unifying rhetoric.

The evening before, on 5 January, the congregation of Old North Church, in Boston, Massachusetts — an Episcopal church best known as the illuminated focal point of Paul Revere’s 1775 ride at the start of the American Revolution — lit lanterns in support of American democracy.

The Vicar, the Revd Dr Matthew Cadwell, said: “In memory of those killed on January 6, 2021, and in support of the noblest ideals of our beloved nation, the Old North Church lights its sacred lanterns again tonight, signalling to all that the lights of freedom and democracy continue to shine brightly in our city, Commonwealth, and nation.

“We pray that these lights lead us all to clearer vision, better understanding, and deeper reverence for the institutions of our democracy.”

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