January 08, 2021
Dear Members of the University Community,
The scene at the Capitol this week was a stain on our democracy. We all have a right to voice disagreement. The rights peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievances, are guaranteed by the first amendment. But no one has a right to break through security fences, smash windows, and force their way into the Capitol. Nobody has a right to flout the rule of law and disrupt the work of our democratically elected representatives. Those who do should be held accountable.
As people of faith we know there are limits to political power. But we also seek to be good citizens. Leo XIII, who established Catholic University, encouraged us in particular to “give the Republic her best citizens.” We do this by teaching our students to respect our constitution, our civic institutions, and the democratic process. Every year dozens of our students intern on Capitol Hill and in the White House, learning first hand how this country should run. The lesson they learned this week, from our President and his supporters who refused to accept the results of the election, run contrary to what we seek to teach our students.
As we look to the beginning of classes on January 25, I want to address some concerns about the extended state of emergency issued by Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. The order, which lasts through January 21, gives her authority to impose measures, such as curfews, if they should prove necessary. Wednesday’s rioting, though despicable, was confined to the Capitol building and grounds, and its denouement has been mercifully rapid. I see no impediment to our students returning to campus on the schedule we have planned.
Nor do I have any concern for the safety of this campus. Catholic University is located three miles from the Capitol where Wednesday’s violence occurred, and there have been no reports of violence since. Our Department of Public Safety has done an excellent job of assessing safety concerns on and around our campus, and is well connected with federal, District, and Capitol law enforcement agencies working to keep us safe.
Please join me in praying that our nation may find a way to heal from the division that afflicts it.