Pope prays for U.S., calls racism a pro-life issue: “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”

Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, June 3, 2020 10:00 AM

Pope Francis speaks during his weekly general audience in the library of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican June 3, 2020. During the audience, the pope prayed for George Floyd and said, "We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism." CNS photo/Vatican Media
Pope Francis speaks during his weekly general audience in the library of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican June 3, 2020. During the audience, the pope prayed for George Floyd and said, “We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism.” CNS photo/Vatican Media
 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.  

VATICAN CITY – Observing with great concern the social unrest unfolding in the United States, Pope Francis 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 his live-streamed 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.

The Pope said he has “witnessed with great concern the disturbing social unrest in your nation in these past days, following the tragic death of Mr. George Floyd,” a 46-year-old man, whose last moments of life were recorded on a widely disseminated video showing a white police officer in Minneapolis pushing down on his neck with his knee May 25. Floyd was later pronounced dead.

“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.”

Hundreds of thousands of people turned out nationwide to protest Floyd’s death. And many of the country’s Catholic bishops joined the calls for justice.

Four officers from the Minneapolis Police Department were fired May 26, including Derek Chauvin, with whom Floyd pleaded “Please, I can’t breathe” as he held him down.

*

The pope’s message to the U.S. was part of his address during Wednesday’s general audience at the Vatican. Here’s the full text of that portion of his remarks:

“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. ”

Related Articles

Catholics who helped Donald Trump become president, especially certain bishops, are responsible for the current chaos in the United States
Robert Mickens   Vatican City     June 5, 2020

Already during the long electoral campaign Mr Trump had begun to unleash this darkness by ruthlessly obliterating all civil discourse and the most basic social conventions that have long distinguished the American people for their well-known (if, at times, superficial) politeness and courtesy towards others.
Crushing all that as mere “political correctness”, the candidate Trump proceeded to denigrate every possible minority group – women, Mexicans, African Americans, Muslims, immigrants, the physically handicapped, professional politicians and government employees.  In his words, they were “losers”.

Now President-elect Trump has surrounded himself with advisors, some who are known to be white supremacists, American nativists and even neo-fascists. And his choice of the ultra-conservative Mike Pence as Vice President is even more alarming…

The United States is an uglier place today.

Certainly, because of the “disturbing social unrest… these past days, following the tragic death of Mr George Floyd”, as Pope Francis said at his June 3 general audience.

The pope expressed concern for what he’s witnessed, probably on television, and directly addressed all Americans who were following his weekly audience via social media.

“My friends,” he said, “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.”

That message should have stung all those Catholic bishops, priests and prominent lay people who worked actively, even if some denied having done so, to make sure Donald Trump became president in 2016.

Those who voted for Trump obviously cast their ballot for a variety of reasons, certainly not all of them noble. Most of the really unsavory motives were unspoken or never admitted. But the fig leaf they used to cover them all was Trump’s decision just a couple of weeks before the election to declare his opposition to abortion.

The United States is an uglier place today.

But that was the case well before the current social unrest. The day it became uglier – and the entire world became much darker – was Nov. 8, 2016 when Mr Trump was elected the 45th president in US history.

That electoral victory nearly four years ago set in motion the dangerous erosion and outright destruction of civility and social cohesion in the country that we are now witnessing.

The events of the past several days, following Floyd’s “murder”, are a direct result of electing a man who has proven over and over again that he lacks even the most basic elements of human decency and compassion.

But we could have predicted this. In fact, many of us did.
“The United States is an uglier place today.” That was the opening line of the “Letter from Rome” on Nov. 16, 2016 – a week after Trump won the White House.

This was the title of that piece: “Ugliness has trumped decency, kindness and goodwill”.

Here’s a bit more of what that article said:
Already during the long electoral campaign Mr Trump had begun to unleash this darkness by ruthlessly obliterating all civil discourse and the most basic social conventions that have long distinguished the American people for their well-known (if, at times, superficial) politeness and courtesy towards others.
Crushing all that as mere “political correctness”, the candidate Trump proceeded to denigrate every possible minority group – women, Mexicans, African Americans, Muslims, immigrants, the physically handicapped, professional politicians and government employees.
In his words, they were “losers”.

Now President-elect Trump has surrounded himself with advisors, some who are known to be white supremacists, American nativists and even neo-fascists. And his choice of the ultra-conservative Mike Pence as Vice President is even more alarming…

Let us be clear. Many US natives, myself included, are deeply embarrassed that our next president is someone who has willingly unleashed the demons that simmer just below the surface of American society – racism, bigotry, misogyny, greed, exclusionism, narcissism and selfishness.

There were many reasons why Mr Trump got elected. Chief among them was the unpopularity of his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Even though the former First Lady and ex-Secretary of State garnered nearly three million more votes, she ran a disastrous campaign, committing strategic blunders that cost her key states and the all-decisive Electoral College tally.

But that’s not the whole story.

Many people in the United States love to define their country as a Christian nation and, astonishingly, it was the vote of self-described God-fearing Christians that made the difference in the 2016 election.

Evangelical Christians and even most Catholics (according to the polls) overwhelmingly voted for the twice-divorced and thrice-married Trump.

Unbelievably, they justified their choice by claiming that the man who had displayed all the social and moral vices that stand in contradiction to the Gospel message of Jesus Christ was the one most likely to promote Christian values.

They were hoodwinked by a con man who claimed that he stood with them in the fight against the terrible evil of abortion. How willfully ignorant!

Mr Trump is, at best, a newcomer to the “pro life” cause, though it is not even clear if he’s fully on board with this movement. He changed his position on abortion at least five times between the Republican primaries and the final weeks of the presidential election.

It is wrong for the clergy to tell their congregations how to vote. But a number of Catholic bishops and even more priests – if the many reports are accurate – made it crystal clear to their people that it would be immoral to vote for a “pro choice” candidate that supports the legalization of abortion. Many saw that as a not-so-veiled endorsement of Mr Trump. In any case, these Church leaders were irresponsible.

Their names are well known. There is no need to list them here. Shaming will serve no good end at this point.
But we all know who they are…

Here is how that particular “Letter from Rome” in November 2106 ended:

And so now the country that loves to describe itself as the greatest democracy on earth awaits the inauguration of its new president and many of us fear the nightmare that may follow. Merely the sound of “President Trump” sends a chill down the spines of slightly more than half of all Americans who did not cast their ballot for him.

We are not only troubled. We are also ashamed.
And nearly four years later Americans, and the rest of the world, are watching a race-baiting, hate-mongering president pour fuel on the flames that are further incinerating a once great nation.
Those who voted for him or helped get him elected – Catholics included – have blood on their hands.

Tragically, the United States is an uglier place today
By Robert Mickens, Vatican City, June 2020

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