Pope confronts the sin of racism and George Floyd’s death

Pope Francis spoke out against the sin of racism in a speech about George Floyd’s death that was broadcast around the world.

He said the sin exists among those who say they fight for all human life – yet it doesn’t fit with the belief system that defends human life at all stages.

“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,” Francis said.

“Today, I join … 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.”

Generally, Floyd’s murder and the subsequent global protests denouncing racism and police brutality might have drawn a muted diplomatic response from the Vatican. But this is a U.S. election year.

The intensity and consistency of the Vatican’s reaction suggests that, from the pope on down, the Vatican is seeking to encourage anti-racism protesters, say a number of commentators.

At the same time, the Vatican is making a clear statement about where American Catholics should stand ahead of President Donald Trump’s bid for a second term this November.

As an example, Francis rang to praise Texan Bishop Mark Seitz who took the knee at an anti-racism protest last week.

“That’s what our Catholic Christian faith is all about: It’s about the fact that God has loved humanity enough — not just one group… that he chose to become one of us,” Seitz said.

“When it comes to racism, clearly this is a sin that causes division, and it is against the will of God.”

Anthea Butler of Yale Divinity School said Francis “wants to send a very clear message to these conservative Catholics here who are pro-Trumpers that, ‘Listen, this is just as much of an issue as abortion is’”.

In another sign of his push for unity among Catholics in America, Francis quoted the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) calls for nonviolent protests.

Archbishop José Gomez, who is the USCCB president had both condemned Floyd’s “senseless and brutal” death and said the violence that occurred in the first days of protests was not the right way to address it.

“The violence of recent nights is self-destructive and self-defeating. Nothing is gained by violence and so much is lost,” Gomez’s said. Francis echoed these words.

The pope’s comments on protests against police violence and racism in America occurred as Trump’s support among Catholic Americans is slipping.

A Pew Research poll conducted in late April and early May shows Trump’s support among white Catholics was on the decline because of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

A poll published by the Public Religion Research Institute last week also showed Catholic support further declined in the days following Floyd’s death.


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