Archbishop Gregory offered the Mass on the 57th anniversary of the 1963 civil rights March on Washington.
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In correspondence dated May 30th and obtained by CNA, Archbishop Gregory’s office declined “the kind invitation to attend the event celebrating International Religious Freedom on Tuesday, June 2, 2020 at the Saint John Paul II Shrine.“
Several priests of the archdiocese said they were surprised by the invitation, given the potentially volatile atmosphere that has accompanied some demonstrations outside the White House in the past week.
Cardinal Turkson noted that “bishops and pastors from parts of Africa” have expressed concern that young Catholics leaving the continent to attend schools in Europe and the U.S. return home having left the Church.
A spokesperson for the shrine said on Tuesday that the White House “originally scheduled this as an event for the president to sign an executive order on international religious freedom.”
Ahmaud Arbery, a 25 year-old black man, was shot dead in Brunswick, Georgia, on February 23 by two white men who cited the state’s citizen arrest law in their confrontation with him.
The Washington archbishop pointed to the enthusiasm of the crowd as a clear sign that they were undeterred in the fight against abortion, even though the vast majority had never known a time when it was not legal.