St Teresa of Avila's Statement on the Death of Mr George Floyd

June 3, 2020

Friends:

Surely for many, learning about the death of George Floyd, and witnessing the intense reactions and protests all around the country have been emotional for us and for people all around the world.  

Some Catholics are calling the murder of George Floyd yet another example of a continuing blind spot toward the racism that has plagued the United States since its founding, evidenced by the continuous use of police brutality against the Black community and silence of many Catholic leaders in the face of it. 

Former Newark Coadjutor-Archbishop Bernard Hebda, now the bishop of Minneapolis-St Paul, said that "the sadness and pain are intense” - for many this is an understatement!

It's at times like this, perhaps particularly when our fragility has been brought into focus by the Covid-19 pandemic, that each of us has been challenged to examine who we are and what we truly believe about one another.  

Catholic teaching is clear - we are called to respect the worth and dignity of each individual, whether they be civilians in need of protection or law enforcement officers charged with providing that protection. 

It's not enough to preach that all human life is sacred and not embody those words with the everyday actions of our lives. Our faith challenges us to make that embodiment intentional in our interactions with one another, those who Jesus called "our neighbor."

The death of Mr Floyd, and many others like him, has flooded our streets all over this land with people who are outraged and angry - demanding nothing less than justice. For others, sadly there is denial, exodus and isolation.

Our new reality, in the post Covid-19 days, calls on Catholics and all people of good will to make the world a better place, where all people can live, love and prosper.

While there are no easy answers, nor do I have any quick solutions, please know that as your pastor I stand ready to work with all those who will come forward with courage and commitment to do what we can here in our community.

In these days ahead, please share your thoughts and ideas with me.  As a people of faith in the Catholic tradition, firmly rooted in the Gospel of Jesus, I pray that we will be true heralds to a struggling world, believing what we read in God's Word, teaching what we believe and practicing what we teach.

To help focus us in this regard, the below link will bring you to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' 2018 document entitled, Open Wide our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love- A Pastoral Letter Against Racism. I believe that it may help us in our understanding, conversations, and action plans. 

I look forward to hearing from you.

Fr Bob

June 1, 2020

In light of the death of Mr George Floyd, we echo the Statement of the USCCB wherein we read:

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.   

... 

We join Archbishop Bernard 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.

...

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.

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