WASHINGTON – Seven U.S. bishop chairmen of committees within the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement on May 29 in the wake of  the death of George Floyd and the protests which have broken out in  Minneapolis and in other cities in the United States.

Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, chairman of the Ad Hoc  Committee Against Racism; Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez of Philadelphia,  chairman of the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church;  Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the Committee  on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann  of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life  Activities; Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, chairman of the  Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs; Bishop David G.  O’Connell, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, chairman of the Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development; and Bishop Joseph N.  Perry, auxiliary bishop of Chicago, chairman of the Subcommittee on  African American Affairs have issued the following statement:

“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. We serve a God of love, mercy, and justice.

“While it is expected that we will plead for peaceful non-violent  protests, and we certainly do, we also stand in passionate support of  communities that are understandably outraged. Too many communities  around this country feel their voices are not being heard, their  complaints about racist treatment are unheeded, and we are not doing  enough to point out that this deadly treatment is antithetical to the  Gospel of Life.

“As we said eighteen months ago in our most recent pastoral letter against racism, Open Wide Our Hearts, for people of color some interactions with police can be fraught with  fear and even danger. People of good conscience must never turn a blind  eye when citizens are being deprived of their human dignity and even  their lives. Indifference is not an option. “As bishops, we  unequivocally state that racism is a life issue.”

“We join Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis in  praying for the repose of the soul of Mr. George Floyd and all others  who have lost their lives in a similar manner. We plead for an end to  the violence in the wake of this tragedy and for the victims of the  rioting. We pray for comfort for grieving families and friends. We pray  for peace across the United States, particularly in Minnesota, while the legal process moves forward. We also anticipate a full investigation  that results in rightful accountability and actual justice.

“We join our brother bishops to challenge everyone to come together,  particularly with those who are from different cultural backgrounds. In  this encounter, let us all seek greater understanding amongst God’s  people. So many people who historically have been disenfranchised  continue to experience sadness and pain, yet they endeavor to persevere  and remain people of great faith. We encourage our pastors to encounter  and more authentically accompany them, listen to their stories, and  learn from them, finding substantive ways to enact systemic change. Such encounters will start to bring about the needed transformation of our  understanding of true life, charity, and justice in the United States.  Hopefully, then there will be many voices speaking out and seeking  healing against the evil of racism in our land.

“As we anticipate the Solemnity of Pentecost this weekend, we call  upon all Catholics to pray and work toward a new outpouring of the Holy  Spirit. Let us pray for a supernatural desire to rid ourselves of the  harm that bias and prejudice cause. We call upon Catholics to pray to  the Holy Spirit for the Spirit of Truth to touch the hearts of all in  the United States and to come down upon our criminal justice and law  enforcement systems. Finally, let each and every Catholic, regardless of their ethnicity, beg God to heal our deeply broken view of each other,  as well as our deeply broken society.”