Capitol Riot Mirrors Insurrections outside US say Sisters with International Duties
~ Chris Herlinger, Global Sisters Report
The January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol has global implications and mirrors insurrections outside the United States, sisters with international duties and experience told Global Sisters Report. Their comments came as sister congregations called for prayers, peace and, in some cases, new leadership.
“It was a chilling sight to see,” said Irish Sr. Winifred Doherty, who represents the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd at the United Nations in New York City and who worked in Ethiopia from 1991 to 2007.
I almost have no words,” she said. “I never thought I’d see such a thing in the United States.”
Sr. Nonie Gutzler, the president of the Maryknoll Sisters, said she and other sisters “were shocked and moved to tears” by the January 6 events. She said a member of her congregation based in Latin America remarked that coups and insurrections are part of the history of that region but that it was startling to see one unfold on the streets of Washington.
Doherty said the events reminded her of her own mission experience in Ethiopia. She recalled street violence, including gunfire, during the 2005 Ethiopian parliamentary elections marked by violence and political repression.
“It was all evoked for me,” Doherty said of the U.S. insurrection. “It is chilling to live in a society where there doesn’t appear to be law and order.”
Sr. Teresa Kotturan, U.N. representative for the Sisters of Charity Federation, who is Indian, said the events served as a warning of the fragility of democratic institutions everywhere. “We can’t take the institutions of democracy for granted,” no matter if it is in India, or the United States.” She continued, “Democracy is not established forever. We have to work on it and the values of the rule of law. If we don’t pay attention, democracy will wash away.”
The global trend toward authoritarian leaders diminishes democracy because such leaders “are concerned only about control and power and self-aggrandizement,” Kotturan added. But in all places, she said, there is a familiar pattern of “small lies adding up until we’re not able to tell the difference.”
Sr. Gutzler, called leadership the heart of the current crisis and said the idea of the common good needs to be affirmed in the coming years.
“A leader needs to bring unity to a country; not false unity, but unity that promotes the common life,” she said. In the U.S. it requires asking the question of what ‘Make America Great Again’ means. Does it mean becoming insular, or to acknowledge and to delight in a diversity of different cultures?”
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