By Vatican News staff writer
Four people died and dozens were injured on Wednesday as the US Capitol in Washington DC was overrun by protesters attempting to disrupt the completion of the Electoral College tally, the last step before the official inauguration of the new President on 20 January.
The protesters pushed through the night, with tensions high and the nation’s capital on alert, but before dawn on Thursday, lawmakers finished their work, confirming Joe Biden won the election. Vice-president Mike Pence, presiding over the joint session, announced the result, 306-232 electoral votes in favour of Biden.
US bishops unanimously condemned the violence and called for peace and respect for the common good.
Many faith-based organizations also released statements that express concern for the latest developments and political voices across the board distanced themselves from the violence and the hateful and divisive rhetoric that spurned it.
Pax Christi USA
Pax Christi USA released a statement in which it called for accountability and expressed the hope that “today’s events will serve as a moment of conversion for some.”
Executive Director Johnny Zokovitch said, “Maybe this moment may serve to give pause to the worst impulses of our national character. Only time will tell. The words and actions of our elected leaders moving forward will tell the tale of what impact today’s events have.”
World Council of Churches
As violence mounted in Washington, DC, on 6 January amid the ongoing election-related tensions in the USA, WCC interim General Secretary, expressed his “grave and mounting concern.”
Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca reflected on the outcome of “the divisive populist politics of recent years,” which he said, “threaten the foundations of democracy in the United States” to the extent that they represent an example to other countries.
“Accordingly, these developments have implications far beyond domestic American politics and are of serious international concern,” he said.
Urging those responsible for the violence to "desist and return to civil discourse and established democratic process,” the WCC called on all parties, “to resist short-term political interests and to act in a manner responsible to others and accountable to the wider society.”
Trump, meanwhile, who has repeatedly refused to concede the election, said in a statement immediately after Thursday’s vote that there will be a smooth transition of power on Inauguration Day on 20 January, even although he “totally disagrees with the outcome of the election.”
Trump has been widely accused of egging on the protesters and urging his supporters to descend on Washington to protest Congress’ formal approval of Biden’s victory.
But many representatives of the Republican Party have distanced themselves from these developments, with Republican Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, saying the “failed insurrection” underscored lawmakers’ duty to finish the count.
Former President George W. Bush said he watched the events in “disbelief and dismay”; Sen. Lindsey Graham said, “Enough is enough”; and Sen. Ben Sasse, who has at times clashed with Trump, issued a statement saying: “Lies have consequences. This violence was the inevitable and ugly outcome of the President’s addiction to constantly stoking division.”
World leaders express shock
World leaders across the globe have also reacted to the violence in the US Capitol with statements issued by the Secretary Generals of the United Nations and of NATO, amongst others.
Amongst those calling for peace, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a tweet called the events in the U.S. Congress a "disgrace," saying the United States stood for democracy around the world and that was it was "vital" now that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power.