Several statements have been issued by bishops from across the country and Illinois on the death of George Floyd and the nationwide protests that have ensued. Floyd was an African-American resident of Minneapolis who died on Mon., May 25 while handcuffed and lying on a city street during an arrest made by Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer. Floyd was accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill at a market.
Below are excerpts from some statements, while each full statement may be seen by clicking on the hyperlinked phrases.
Statement of the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles:
We should not let it be said that George Floyd died for no reason. We should honor the sacrifice of his life by removing racism and hate from our hearts and renewing our commitment to fulfill our nation’s sacred promise — to be a beloved community of life, liberty, and equality for all.
Statement of seven U.S. bishop chairmen of committees within the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:
Racism is not a thing of the past or simply a throwaway political issue to be bandied about when convenient. 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. 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.
Statement of Cardinal Cupich of Chicago:
I will not pretend to speak with any authority about the challenges people of color experience in our society. I do not share the fear they put on when they and their children leave their homes every day. I do not know what it means to be “other.” But I know there is a way to fix it. And the fix begins when we stop talking about the proportionality of “their” response and start talking about the proportionality of “ours.” Surely a nation that could put a man in space, his safety assured by the brilliance of black women, can create a fair legal system, equitable education and employment opportunities and ready access to health care. Laws do not solve problems, but they create a system where racism in all its forms is punished and playing fields are leveled.
Statement of Bishop Pates, apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Joliet:
Acts such as what occurred in Minneapolis must be repudiated from the rooftops. Does not Jesus call us to witness to pro-life in all its dimensions?
Bishop Pates also released this video, in which he offers his thoughts on the sin of racism and George Floyd’s death.
Statement of Bishop Braxton of Belleville:
I join with my brother Bishops in expressing deep sorrow and great concern about the death of Mr. George Floyd on May 25, 2020 at the hands of Derek Chauvin, a police officer in Minneapolis. Please read, study and pray over the attached statement from our Episcopal Conference. I urge pastors to share it with their pastors in every way possible. Pray about it in the Prayers of the Faithful at this weekend’s Masses and in the Masses in the weeks ahead. Put it on your websites, insert it in your bulletins, share it with your local newspapers.
Please invite your people to pray for a new Pentecost in our time. May the Holy Spirit enkindle in the heart of us all the fire of His Divine Love. May that love help us to work to heal the Racial Divide in the United States and bring an end to racial prejudice and social unrest.
Statement of Bishop Jenky, CSC, of Peoria:
Jesus teaches us: Love your neighbor as yourself. This commandment from the Lord includes without any qualification people of every race, ethnicity, religion, and political conviction. For believers, therefore, there can be no justification for ever treating unfairly anyone else on the basis of these differences. I therefore join with our Holy Father Pope Francis, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Bishops of Illinois in specifically condemning racial injustice of any kind. I must also deplore all violence and disorder which tends to have an enormous and long lasting negative impact on the poorest and most stressed of our neighborhoods. I also ask your prayers for the safety of the overwhelming majority of our racially diverse police, fire departments, and first responders who daily and selflessly stand in harm’s way in protection of all our communities. May the Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, help Central Illinois and all of America to better live up to the highest ideals of our founding.
Bishop Paprocki of Springfield offered a rosary for peace and respect of life, which may be viewed here. His opening comments were as follows:
We gather here for our prayers for peace and justice and for respect for life. It’s very fitting that we come here for these prayers, in light of the senseless killing of George Floyd and the civic unrest that has ensued as a result of that. It’s clear that we need to pray. So we will be praying the rosary and I invite you to join with me. We invoke our Blessed Mother, Mary, as the Queen of Peace, and so we pray for her to intercede for us to bring peace to our nation and to our world. We also call Mary by her title as Mirror of Justice, and so we pray for justice to be done in the case of the murder of George Floyd. We also call Mary the mother of Christ and the mother of the Church. She gave life to our savior, Jesus Christ, and she gives life to each one of us in the Church, as adopted sons and daughters of God. So we turn to her for greater respect for all human life throughout life, from conception to natural death. So please join me now as we begin our prayers.
Statement of Bishop Malloy of Rockford:
The Bishops of the United States have issued a statement in Wake of Death of George Floyd and National Protests that have followed. In that statement they state forcefully, “This is the latest wake-up call that needs to be answered by each of us in a spirit of determined conversion. Racism is not a thing of the past or simply a throwaway political issue to be bandied about when convenient. It is a real and present danger that must be met head on. … We plead for an end to the violence in the wake of this tragedy and for the victims of the rioting.”
I join myself to the entirety of the statement of the Bishops. Racial injustice and the hatred and anger that ensue have for too long been a part of our society. Based in faith and in our shared humanity we must come to see each other as bearing the dignity that flows from being made in God’s image and likeness.
I ask that we all pray for peace, healing and an end to violence in this difficult moment. May we also receive the grace in our own hearts to overcome once and for all any sense of racial hatred or division so that we might become the people and nation that God has made us to be.