Pope urges U.S. to protect democracy, shun violence after mob attack

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis urged Americans on Sunday to shun violence, seek reconciliation and protect democratic values, following the mob attack on the U.S. Capitol building by supporters of President Donald Trump that left five people dead.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump and Pope Francis meet at the Vatican, May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Evan Vucci/Pool/File Photo

“I repeat that violence is self-destructive, always. Nothing is gained by violence and so much is lost,” the pope said in his Sunday address.

It was the second time in as many days that the pope, who visited the United States in 2015 when Barrack Obama was president, spoke out on the violence in the Washington, D.C.

Dozens of people have been charged following the storming of the Capitol on Wednesday, with the FBI asking the public to help identify participants, given the proliferation of images of the riots on the internet. The five people who died included a police officer.

“I appeal to the authorities of the country and to the entire population to maintain a lofty sense of responsibility in order to calm things down, promote national reconciliation and protect democratic values that are rooted in American society,” Francis said.

He said he wanted to send “an affectionate greeting” to all Americans whose country had been “shaken by the recent siege on Congress”.

Francis also said he was praying for those who died and that all Americans would “keep alive a culture of encounter, a culture of caring, as the master way to build together the common good”.

In advance excerpts on Saturday of a television interview to be aired on Sunday night, Francis said it was important to understand what had gone wrong and to learn from it.

“(Fringe) groups that are not well inserted into society sooner or later will commit this sort of violence,” he said in the television interview.

Francis has had a rocky relationship with Trump, who visited the Vatican in 2017, disagreeing with him on a spate of issues, including immigration and climate change.

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