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Can’t turn away from injustice, intolerance

The murder of George Floyd by police officers calls for justice. Pope Francis at his general audience June 3 said, “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.”

On May 31, Archbishop Jose Gomez, president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, stated, “The killing of George Floyd was senseless and brutal, a sin that cries out to heaven for justice. How is it possible that, in America, a black man’s life can be taken from him while calls for help are not answered, and his killing is recorded as it happens? I am praying for George Floyd and his loved ones, and on behalf of my brother bishops, I share the outrage of the black community and those who stand with them in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and across the country.” The bishop chairmen of the NCCB declared, “We 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. 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.”

The pope and the bishops call upon us to rise above our indifference, our complacency, our self-satisfaction, and our denial of the historical and current injustice that we and our institutions now and in the past have inflicted on minorities and on George Floyd. As Psalm 140:12 has it, “I know that the Lord will do justice to the needy, and will revenge the poor.”

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