The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police has forced America to pick a side. As for Pope Francis, he chose the side of the people and condemned the police-involved death. He said he is praying for Floyd and “all those others who have lost their lives as a result of the sin of racism.”
After several nights of protests in the U.S., some of which have turned violent with acts of rioting and looting, Pope Francis addressed the turmoil Wednesday during his weekly general audience at the Vatican.
The pope 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.”
Francis stressed that we should not “tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.”
He added, “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.”
Since George Floyd’s death, there have been marches against police brutality in the United States as well as European countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the Netherlands.
The pope quoted Archbishop José H. Gomez, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in regards to the violent protests. He recently issued a statement condemning Floyd’s death saying, “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?”
The archbishop then made a reference to America’s most famous civil rights leader, “Is it true what Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, that riots are the language of the unheard. We should be doing a lot of listening right now.