pope francis and racism

in our world today, there are over 1.3 billion catholics in almost 3,000 dioceses. as the bishop of rome, pope francis has a challenging role of bringing us into a real communion of love. we must trust in the guidance and help of the Holy Spirit through it all. for the pope to comment about a lay person who is not catholic by name rarely happens. when he chooses to do this on the worldwide stage, it has to be a very important area/issue to address in faith and morals.

last wednesday, pope francis made some extraordinary comments regarding racism in light of george floyd’s death here in the usa. here is the full text (the highlighted portions are mine; my musings to follow):

“I greet the English-speaking faithful joining us through the media. Dear brothers and sisters in the United States, I have witnessed with great concern the disturbing social unrest in your nation in these past days, following the tragic death of Mr. George Floyd.

“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,”

“Today I join the Church in Saint 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. May Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America, intercede for all those who work for peace and justice in your land and throughout the world. May God bless all of you and your families. “


one of the goals of our faith is to help us be people who love; to make it easier for all to love in our world. to stand against sin that hurts/kills others is a response in love. the video/photo images of the death of george floyd has lit a fire in the public’s eye. the result has been righteous anger with various protests. it all resurrects the anger from the deaths of our brothers and sisters before george floyd because of racism — trayvon martin, michael brown, ahmaud arbery and many others. anti racist public actions are now international. we are joined by places such as france, germany, australia and england. you do not have to be catholic nor a citizen of the usa to acknowledge the importance of equity and the sacredness of life. we can see that racism exists in many different forms in all cultures and we are responding in various ways.

our faith calls us to non-violent actions toward reconciliation/peace at all levels. these are other aspects of what it means to love in our relationships. protests are needed to gain attention to the issues but we also need to know what specific changes will really move us to peace and justice. we have to help our elected officials understand what the common good is for true equity. structural change is difficult but not impossible. strategies within and after the protests can bring us forward. but we need to do these tasks together if we want them done well. who will craft these plans for the good of all?

with regard to changes within policing, much can be learned from camden, nj and the changes that they have made these past years. the abuse of power is wrong in all organizations but racism within police departments can kill people. we will never forget the name of george floyd. what cities will have a will to try respond well to the communities of color most affected by racism?

for true reconciliation to happen, there needs to be humility and confession from all. the healing of relationships cannot happen only through changes in the letter of the law. who are the agents of reconciliation that can understand all sides and the various undercurrents that affect us all? who do we trust with this level of reconciliation?

it will take courage to respond to these questions that address racism. indeed, turning a blind eye is not an option if we truly believe in the sacredness of life.

we continue to pray the Spirit’s wisdom and understanding through it all. peace, justice and reconciliation are not sprints, nor are they marathons: these are on-going ways of being that will need constant attention, action, evaluation and revision. the renewal of relationships in love are indeed the works of the Spirit in which we can choose to participate. what gifts can you share toward this kind of love?

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