Acton Institute Powerblog

Rev. Robert Sirico: Reject ‘moral relativism’ over the Capitol riot

Bill Donohue, Raymond Arroyo, and Rev. Robert A. Sirico. (Photo credit: Screenshot.)

Rev. Robert Sirico, the president and co-founder of the Acton Institute, discussed how Christians should respond to the Capitol riot in a segment of EWTN’s The World Over dedicated to “political protests and lawlessness.”

“Why are we seeing more frequent, violent political protests here in the U.S., and what needs to be done about this rioting?” host Raymond Arroyo asked his guests, Rev. Sirico and Catholic League President Bill Donohue.

“We need to be outraged – morally outraged – by what we saw in D.C.” for “the same reason that we were morally outraged by what we saw in Seattle, and Portland, and Minneapolis,” said Rev. Sirico. “We can’t be tempted to a kind of moral relativism.”

Vandalizing the Capitol is “not that much morally different than the violation a coffee shop, or a grocery store, or a retailer,” he said during the 22-minute-long segment. Both acts violate “private property, which is sacred.”

Donohue regularly returned to the ways political figures on the far-Left sanitized this summer’s riots over the murder of George Floyd. Rev. Sirico said that political ideologues cannot give people of faith “permission to lower our own moral standards.”

Instead, Rev. Sirico encouraged Christians to keep their eyes on the prize. “We’re trying to build a society that is virtuous, a society that is good, where there can be cooperation,” he said. “Are conservatives now going to” begin “promoting this kind of division – which is exactly what Marxism wants?” he asked.

Rev. Sirico and Raymond Arroyo said that Christians must detoxify our personal relationships of politically motivated animosity. “I think we need to begin recognizing that there is a division in this country, and the only way out of it is for us to listen to each other and not throw things at each other,” said Rev. Sirico. “We need to begin a new conversation.” Raymond Arroyo agreed that Americans have to “get away from seeing everyone through a partisan lens.”

Engaging in honest, robust dialogue with those who disagree with us will reveal how much we have in common. The ringleaders of riots consist of “a smaller group of irresponsible, ideological people who are bent on destruction, bent on violence, and those people need to be isolated and identified. Those thoughts, those principles, those politics need to be identified and [exorcised] from the body politic,” Rev. Sirico said.

“We need to be ruthless with our principles and our ideas, and gentle with our neighbors.”

The trio also discussed – and sometimes respectfully quibbled over – whether the rhetoric of politicians like President Donald Trump and Rep. Maxine Waters incited violence, why Christians should condemn the Antifa Left and the Alt-Right alike, how this summer’s toppling of statues created an indifference about defiling the U.S. Capitol building, why the subsequent riot proved counterproductive to the “Stop the Steal” rally’s stated cause, why public figures won’t explore the “root causes” of the D.C. riot, whether the Christian Left used the same polarizing and incendiary terms they now condemn on the Right, and the reason the National Catholic Reporter will never succeed in its efforts to cancel traditional believers from contributing to civic and political culture.

You can watch the full video below:

Rev. Ben Johnson

Rev. Ben Johnson (@therightswriter) is an Eastern Orthodox priest and served as Executive Editor of the Acton Institute (2016-2021), editing Religion & Liberty, the Powerblog, and its transatlantic website. He has extensively researched the Alt-Right. Previously, he worked for LifeSiteNews and FrontPageMag.com, where he wrote three books including Party of Defeat (with David Horowitz, 2008). His work has appeared at DailyWire.com, National Review, The American Spectator, The Guardian, Daily Caller, National Catholic Register, Spectator USA, FEE Online, RealClear Policy, The Blaze, The Stream, American Greatness, Aleteia, Providence Magazine, Charisma, Jewish World Review, Human Events, Intellectual Takeout, CatholicVote.org, Issues & Insights, The Conservative, Rare.us, and The American Orthodox Institute. His personal websites are therightswriter.com and RevBenJohnson.com. His views are his own.