SAN ANTONIO - UPDATE: Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller released a statement Tuesday evening apologizing for singling out President Donald Trump, but remaining steadfast that racism and violence must be rooted out of society.
"I regret that my recent Tweet remarks were not focused on the issues but on an individual," he wrote in a two-page statement sent to KSAT.com and posted on several of the San Antonio Archdioceses online platforms.
Hours before the statement, the archbishop had deleted the tweets that directly referenced the president. The string of messages were posted Monday night, two days after the killing of 22 people in an El Paso Walmart by a racist gunman who targeted Hispanics.
In his statement, the archbishop added that it is his ministry to serve spiritual needs and "express myself in ways that convey compassion, civility and build up unity."
"No one has the moral right to make racist statements," García-Siller said. "... There is growing fear and harassment, and at times American public discourse uses rhetoric that instigates fear against foreigners, immigrants and refugees. We must pray for fervently for peace amidst all of the violence which seems to be overwhelming our society." Watch his full video statement below, and read the original story for more context under the video.
ORIGINAL: The leader of the San Antonio Archdiocese, one of the top two Catholic leaders in Texas, called out racism, violence and President Donald Trump in a rash of tweets sent from his account Monday night.
“President stop hate and racism, starting with yourself,”a tweet sent from Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller's account at 8 p.m. Monday reads. "... Racism is a sin. God is offended by this.”
García-Siller, who was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 and is one of 34 archbishops in the United States, also called for gun control in tweets sent on Sunday. “Gun control is urgent. More lives wasted in vain. Families suffering. We are suffering. Basta!!!” he wrote.
Calls placed to his office and spokesperson were not immediately returned. García-Siller, who was born in Mexico and became a U.S. citizen in 1998, tweets regularly but the messages are generally less political. The account has more than 2,000 followers and links to the archdioceses Facebook page and website.
President stop hate and racism, starting with yourself. — Archbishop Gustavo (@ABishopGustavo) August 6, 2019
“Please stop racism. Please stop hatred. Please be people of good will. Please stop fake prayer. You have cause too much damage already, you have destroyed people lives. Stop, stop, stop. Please, please, please,” the account tweeted.
The San Antonio Archdiocese leads a Catholic population of 800,000, including 160 priests and 139 parishes. Texas has two archdioceses.
Other leaders in Texas, including former Congressman Beto O'Rourke, El Paso Congresswoman Veronica Escobar and others have asked Trump not to visit the border-greiving city on Wednesday.
A white 21-year-old man from the Dallas area used a semi-automatic rifle to carry out a massacre that targeted Hispanics at an El Paso Walmart on Saturday. Authorities are investigating an anti-immigrant, white supremacist manifesto that riled against the "Hispanic invasion of Texas" and other language similar to that used by Trump on the campaign trail. The shooter has been charged with capital murder and federal authorities are investigating the shooting as an act of domestic terrorism.
“Violence is escalating everywhere. The [rhetoric] and selfishness of many in power has led to destruction and pain. We rise with love, forgiveness and tenderness as we care the wounds of those innocent people affected by hatred, racism and discrimination. Enough, enough and enough,” the archbishop's account posted on Sunday.
Copyright 2019 by KSAT - All rights reserved.