WASHINGTON — The U.S. Catholic bishops stated May 29 they “are broken-hearted, sickened and outraged to watch another video of an African American man being killed before our very eyes.”
“What’s more astounding is that this is happening within mere weeks of several other such occurrences. This is the latest wake-up call that needs to be answered by each of us in a spirit of determined conversion,” they wrote in a statement about the May 25 death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis. Officers involved with Floyd’s death have been criminally charged.
“Racism is not a thing of the past or simply a throwaway political issue to be bandied about when convenient,” the bishops stated. “It is a real and present danger that must be met head-on.”
“As members of the Church, we must stand for the more difficult right and just actions instead of the easy wrongs of indifference,” they stated. “We cannot turn a blind eye to these atrocities and yet still try to profess to respect every human life. We serve a God of love, mercy and justice.”
“Indifference is not an option,” they emphasized and stated “unequivocally” that “racism is a life issue.”
The statement was issued by the chairmen of seven committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The federal Justice Department promised a “robust” investigation into the circumstances surrounding Floyd’s death.
Over several days in Minneapolis, after protests ended violent demonstrations erupted. Gov. Tim Walz activated the National Guard May 29. The protests or riots have occurred in dozens of U.S. cities, including St. Louis, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, New York, Louisville, and Columbus, Ohio.
The bishops in their statement pointed to their “Open Wide Our Hearts” pastoral against racism approved by the body of bishops in 2018. In it, they wrote: “For people of color some interactions with police can be fraught with fear and even danger. People of good conscience must never turn a blind eye when citizens are being deprived of their human dignity and even their lives.”
In the May 29 statement, the committee chairmen called for an end to the violence taking place in the wake of the tragedy in Minneapolis but also said they “stand in passionate support of communities that are understandably outraged.”
They joined with Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis in praying for the repose of the soul of Floyd “and all others who have lost their lives in a similar manner.”
They called on Catholics “to pray and work toward a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit” and pray to “to rid ourselves of the harm that bias and prejudice cause.”
“We call upon Catholics to pray to the Holy Spirit for the spirit of truth to touch the hearts of all in the United States and to come down upon our criminal justice and law enforcement systems,” the bishops said urged every Catholic, regardless of ethnicity, to “beg God to heal our deeply broken view of each other, as well as our deeply broken society.”
Celebrating Mass on Pentecost, Archbishop Hebda called on faith in the Holy Spirit’s presence.
“We have to believe that the Holy Spirit will once again bring peace,” the archbishop said, addressing his homily to a congregation less than a quarter its usual size as the people of the archdiocese practice social distancing to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“It’s so important to remember that the Holy Spirit will guide us through this difficult time. As we suffer through the great sorrow that’s in our hearts at the death of a man who should not have died,” the archbishop said.
All of the faithful, the archbishop said, need to pray to know how to respond to the gifts of the Holy Spirit in this time of great suffering.
Editor’s Note: The full text of the bishops’ statement can be found at https://bit.ly/2zHNZLK
The full text of the bishops’ 2108 pastoral against racism, “Open Wide Our Hearts,” can be found online at https://bit.ly/2XLbpYv.
Pope prays for U.S., calls racism a pro-life issue
By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has said no one can claim to defend the sanctity of every human life while turning a blind eye to racism and exclusion.
Addressing all “dear brothers and sisters in the United States” during a livestreamed general audience June 3, the pope said, “Today I join the Church in St. Paul and Minneapolis, and in the entire United States, in praying for the repose of the soul of George Floyd and of all those others who have lost their lives as a result of the sin of racism.”
“Let us pray for the consolation of their grieving families and friends and let us implore the national reconciliation and peace for which we yearn,” he said in Italian.
“My friends, we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life. At the same time, we have to recognize that ‘the violence of recent nights is self-destructive and self-defeating. Nothing is gained by violence and so much is lost,’” he said, quoting Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The pope prayed for the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America, to assist “all those who work for peace and justice in your land and throughout the world. May God bless all of you and your families.”