Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore rebuked comments made by President Trump over the weekend, taking issue with the president’s characterization of a congressional district that includes part of the city as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.”
“It saddens me to see Baltimore severely denigrated by President Trump,” the archbishop said in a statement posted to the archdiocese’s social media accounts on July 27. “Baltimore is near and dear to my heart. It is hometown to more than half a million people.”
The archbishop acknowledged that “Baltimore has its tragedies and challenges but also its strengths and opportunities.”
“It saddens me to see Baltimore severely denigrated by President Trump,” the archbishop said. “Baltimore is near and dear to my heart. It is hometown to more than half a million people.”
Archbishop Lori and Auxiliary Bishop Denis Madden also signed a letter dated July 29 along with 10 other faith leaders, condemning the tweet.
“It was horrible, demeaning and beneath the dignity of a political leader who should be encouraging us all to strive and work for a more civil, just and compassionate society,” the letter said.
The letter acknowledges that cities, including Baltimore, face “longstanding and systemic problems” such as “poverty, crime, violence and racism.” People of faith, the letter said, seek to improve conditions.
“Our congregations have a similar vision of health and prosperity for Baltimore, and they are working courageously and effectively to build up the city by their actions—not tearing it down by their words,” the letter said.
The group of clergy invited the president to visit Baltimore and they asked him, “in the name of all that is good, healthy and decent, stop putting people down. Enough of the harmful rhetoric that angers and discourages the people and communities you are called to serve—more than you know.”
Mr. Trump dispatched a number of tweets over the weekend railing against Rep. Elijah Cummings, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee. The president said Mr. Cummings’s Baltimore-area district is “considered the worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States.” It was the president’s latest assault on a prominent lawmaker, and the people he represents, two weeks after he sparked nationwide controversy with racist tweets directed at four congresswomen of color.
In response to the president’s tweets, some people on social media shared images of blighted areas represented in Congress by white Republican lawmakers who have not been subject to the same kind of criticism from Mr. Trump. But the president doubled-down, even sharing with his millions of followers a tweet from a non-American journalist calling the nation’s 25th-largest city a “proper sh*thole.”
Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, a Republican, on July 29 called the president’s comments “just outrageous and inappropriate.” Mr. Hogan, the new chairman of the National Governors Association, said he recently gave an address at the N.G.A. about the angry and divisive politics that “are literally tearing America apart.”
“I think enough is enough,” Mr. Hogan said on the C4 Radio Show in Baltimore. “I mean, people are just completely fed up with this kind of nonsense, and why are we not focused on solving the problems and getting to work instead of who’s tweeting what and who’s calling who what kind of names. I mean, it’s just absurd.”
Michael Steele, the state’s former lieutenant governor who went on to serve as the national chairman of the Republican National Committee, said it was “reprehensible to talk about the city the way” Mr. Trump did, but he hoped the attention would elevate the conversation about how to help urban areas, and he invited the president to be a part of the conversation.
“Put down the cellphone and the tweeting and come walk the streets in this community so that you can see firsthand the good and the difficult that needs to be addressed, and let’s do it together,” Mr. Steele said on the radio show.
For his part, Archbishop Lori said residents of Baltimore deserve respect from their elected leaders.
“Many good people are working together to address Baltimore’s challenges and to build on its strengths,” the archbishop said. “They deserve the support of elected officials and their fellow citizens.”
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. This report was updated on July 30.