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After ‘Jewish’ accusations, San Antonio says archbishop's Twitter is ‘personal account’

The Archdiocese of San Antonio has distanced itself from statements made on by Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller about the conflict in the Middle East.

Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller. Image: Archdiocese of San Antonio via YouTube


In a series of seven consecutive social media posts on May 7, the archbishop criticized the ongoing Israeli military action in Gaza, begun after the Hamas attack on Israel in October 2023.

Some of the posts, which came one day after Yom HaShoah, the Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust, were inflammatory or unclear.

In one post, the archbishop called on “Jewish brothers and sisters” to “stop killing Palestinians.”

The post drew numerous comments from people criticizing the archbishop for conflating the Israeli government with Jewish people. 

In another post, García-Siller asserted that “The Holocaust was already forgotten for Jews and everyone else.”

Asked to clarify the archbishop’s statements, which some online have interpreted as antisemitic, and asked whether the archbishop’s posts represented the official stance of the archdiocese, a communications official stressed the personal nature of García-Siller’s account.

“The account of Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, is his personal account; it is not the official account of the Archdiocese of San Antonio. Archbishop Gustavo urges prayers for peace in the Middle East,” Jordan McMorrough, director of communications for the San Antonio archdiocese, told The Pillar Wednesday.

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Since the mass-casualty terrorist attacks on Israel on October 7 and following the Israeli government’s military operations in Gaza, Catholic leaders have repeatedly denounced the violence, while also warning against rising antisemitism.

Pope Francis has issued calls for negotiations and a two-state solution, including during his Urbi et Orbi blessing this Easter.

“I appeal once again that access to humanitarian aid be ensured to Gaza, and call once more for the prompt release of the hostages seized on last October 7 and for an immediate ceasefire in the [Gaza] Strip,” he said.

Archbishop Timothy Broglio, president of the USCCB, and Bishop Elias Zaidan, chairman of the conference’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, also issued a Holy Week statement calling for prayers for peace in the region.  

“To move forward, a cease fire and a permanent cessation of war and violence is absolutely necessary. To move forward, those held hostage must be released and civilians must be protected. To move forward, humanitarian aid must reach those who are in such dire need,” they said.

Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, said in October that he was willing to exchange himself for Israeli children being held hostage in Gaza by Hamas militants. 

As the conflict has continued, he has stressed the urgency of a ceasefire. 

“The elements for a possible ceasefire have always been there; all that is missing is the will to make it happen. It requires both sides to have the willingness to reach compromises, because it's clear that compromises will have to be made on both sides,” the cardinal told Vatican News in March. “[I]t is clear that solutions must be found that guarantee stability, freedom, and dignity for both Palestinians and Israelis.”

Recent years have seen a rise in antisemitism, which has been condemned by USCCB leaders. 

President Joe Biden warned of a “ferocious” increase in antisemitism during a speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Days of Remembrance this week.

“This ancient hatred of Jews didn’t begin with the Holocaust. It didn’t end with the Holocaust, either,” he said.

This week is not the first time García-Siller has sparked controversy on social media.

Last year, the archbishop posted on that the government should not be involved in people’s decisions about having children, leading to criticism that his comments seemed to resemble the rhetoric of abortion advocates. An archdiocesan spokesperson later clarified that the archbishop was referring to governmental actions that infringe on parents’ rights to raise their children. The post was later deleted from social media.

And in 2019, García-Siller walked back a post accusing U.S. President Donald Trump of racism.

In an August 2019 thread, he urged Trump: “President stop hate and racism, starting with yourself.”

After deleting that social media thread, the archbishop explained in a statement that: “I regret that my recent Tweet remarks were not focused on the issues but on an individual. All individuals have God-given dignity and should be accorded respect and love as children of God, especially in our conversations and interactions. We should be aware of this in our discourse about the Office of the President of the United States, which is due our respect.” 

While dioceses typically operate official channels of communication, some bishops operate personal social media accounts as well. 

Bishop Joseph Strickland, who was removed from leadership of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas last year, was also known for controversial social media posts, including one in which he said he “rejects” Pope Francis’ “program undermining the Deposit of Faith.” 

Two months before Strickland’s removal, a source close to the Dicastery for Bishops told The Pillar that Strickland’s statements on social media were considered a serious problem by Vatican officials.

A meeting between Pope Francis and Vatican officials to discuss Strickland involved both concerns over diocesan finances and governance and “the matter of the public scandal from all these comments about the pope and the synod,” the source said.

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