Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, called the killing of George Floyd senseless and brutal, a sin that cries out to heaven for justice. “How is it possible that in America, a black man’s life can be taken from him while calls for help are not answered, and his killing is recorded as it happens?” he wrote.
Archbishop Robert J. Carlson wrote that we have lost our way as a nation because of prejudice and selfishness and jealousy. He and Archbishop Gomez both prescribe listening to people of color and learning about their experiences.
That’s a good start.
Archbishop Carlson adds a need to help people reach their full human potential as the people God created them to be. This means providing quality education that leads to employment and fair wages, pathways to progress for families in need of healing and structure, access to health care for the uninsured, helping people develop skills and find jobs, rehabbing houses in distress to provide affordable housing, support for people experiencing homelessness, and mental health services. He stressed that we must look at why people do not have access to so many of these things.
Catholics can’t sit on the sidelines.
America magazine, a Jesuit publication, wrote that in the face of racism, Catholics “must hunger for justice as we hunger for the Eucharist. The Gospel calls us, as we prepare for Communion, to ‘go first and be reconciled’ (Matthew 5:24) with our sisters and brothers.” America added that the national outcry should lead Catholics to conversion, repentance and reconciliation.
Where to go from there? America suggests Catholics can show economic solidarity by supporting black-owned businesses in their own communities and assisting organizations working for racial justice and ministries directly serving black Catholics. Archbishop Carlson’s remarks listed above provide a blueprint as well.
Being a prayerful presence is important, as shown by the ecumenical vigils for racial justice held by St. Margaret of Scotland Parish and Compton Heights Christian Church each Friday on South Grand Boulevard at Flora Place in St. Louis.
The National Catholic Educational Association offers resources and advice to parents, an essential component in going forward. Simply having a conversation about each person being made in the likeness of God and treating all people with dignity lets children know this is right and it is expected behavior, NCEA material states. “Exposing children to many people, cultures, experiences supports the idea that all people are equal in God’s eyes,” the NCEA reminds parents.
There’s a lot to do. Time to get started.