By Courtney Mares
Pope Francis prayed Sunday for the United States, asking the Immaculate Virgin Mary to help foster a “culture of encounter” after the recent violence at the U.S. Capitol Building.
“I extend an affectionate greeting to the people of the United States of America, shaken by the recent siege of Congress. I pray for those who lost their lives, five lost in those dramatic moments,” Pope Francis said after his Angelus address Jan. 10.
“I reaffirm that violence is always self-destructive. Nothing is gained with violence and so much is lost. I urge the authority of the state and the entire population to maintain a high sense of responsibility in order to calm the spirits, promote national reconciliation and protect the democratic values rooted in American society,” the pope said.
In the midday Marian prayer broadcast live from the library of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis invoked the intercession of the Immaculate Conception, who was proclaimed patroness of the United States in 1846.
“May the Immaculate Virgin, Patroness of the United States of America, help to keep alive the culture of encounter, the culture of care, as the main way to build the common good together,” the pope said.
Pope Francis’ comments came four days after pro-Donald Trump protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol Building Jan. 6 as Congress was in the process of certifying the presidential election results, leading to the evacuation of lawmakers and the deadly shooting of one protester by law enforcement. A U.S. Capitol police officer also died from injuries sustained during the attack, and three other protesters died due to medical emergencies.
In a video clip published Jan. 9, Pope Francis said that he was “astonished” by this incident that occurred in the U.S. Capitol Building.
“I was astonished, because they are a people so disciplined in democracy, right? But it’s a reality,” the pope said in the clip published to the website of the Italian news program TgCom24.
“Something isn’t working,” Francis continued. With “people taking a path against the community, against democracy, against the common good. Thanks be to God that this has broken out and there was a chance to see it well so that now you can try and heal it. Yes, this must be condemned, this movement…”
The clip was published as a preview of a longer interview with Pope Francis by Vatican journalist Fabio Marchese Ragona, who works for the Italian television network Mediaset.
The interview will air on the evening of Jan. 10, and will be followed by a Mediaset-produced film on the life of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, from his youth in Argentina until his election as Pope Francis in 2013.
In his Angelus address, Pope Francis reflected on the manifestation of the Holy Trinity at Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River.
“After this gesture of compassion from Jesus, an extraordinary thing happens: the heavens open and the Trinity is finally revealed. The Holy Spirit descends in the form of a dove and the Father says to Jesus: ‘You are my beloved Son.’ God manifests himself when mercy appears,” Pope Francis said.
“Do not forget this: God manifests himself when mercy appears, because that is his face. Jesus becomes the servant of sinners and is proclaimed Son; He lowers himself upon us and the Spirit descends upon him. Love calls love. It is also true for us: in every gesture of service, in every work of mercy that we perform, God manifests himself, God sets his gaze on the world.”
The pope said that “God overcomes the evil of the world by humbling himself.”
He added: “It is also the way in which we can lift others up: not judging, not in commanding what to do, but by becoming neighbors, by empathizing, by sharing God’s love.”