The Killing of George Floyd and the Church’s Response
June 4, 2020 COVID-19 Faith Reflection—The Killing of George Floyd and the Church’s Response
My go-to news source for controversial events such as the killing of George Floyd is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
. What I like about the USCCB statements in general is that they are different than other media. Instead of framing events as breaking news, alarming news, and tragic news, our bishops offer a way forward grounded in the gospel and truth. They challenge me with Catholic faith and morals. Their reflections slow down my racing heart and turn me to the Lord.
For example, the May 29 statement
begins with a pastor’s empathy. “We are broken-hearted, sickened, and outraged to watch another video of an African American man being killed before our very eyes.” Our bishops are first of all pastors. They care that their sheep are being killed.
Then, offering more than “thoughts and prayers,” they take a stand. “Racism is not a thing of the past or simply a throwaway political issue to be bandied about when convenient….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.” They stand with God who is love, mercy, and justice. They stand in passionate support of communities that are understandably outraged.
Our bishops are not into sound bytes. They refer us to their most recent pastoral letter against racism, “Open Wide Our Hearts.” They want us to read and reflect and only then take action. Their pastoral letter challenges people of good conscience never to 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.”
Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) followed with a statement on May 31, Pentecost Sunday
Unlike some opinions, he does not paint law enforcement with one brush. “The cruelty and violence [George Floyd] suffered does not reflect on the majority of good men and women in law enforcement, who carry out their duties with honor. We know that. And we trust that civil authorities will investigate his killing carefully and make sure those responsible are held accountable.”
Archbishop Gomez states the truth that violence, whether by law enforcement or civilians, is self-destructive and self-defeating. “Nothing is gained by violence and so much is lost….Burning and looting communities, ruining the livelihoods of our neighbors, does not advance the cause of racial equality and human dignity.”
Like the other bishops, he does not let us off the hook with “thoughts and prayers.” He understands that the protests we are seeing in our cities reflect the justified frustration and anger of millions of our brothers and sisters who even today experience humiliation, indignity, and unequal opportunity only because of their race or the color of their skin. “It should not be this way in America.”
You can find more about what the Church teaches about the sin of racism at
On Wednesday, Pope Francis said that the sacredness of human life cannot tolerate the sin of racism. “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,” 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.” The Pope ended his remarks with an invitation to pray for the consolation of the grieving and for national reconciliation.
Archbishop Gomez concluded, as the bishops’ statements often do, with a vision that does not necessarily name God but stirs the heart towards God, “renewing our commitment to fulfill our nation’s sacred promise — to be a beloved community of life, liberty, and equality for all.”
Bishop Noonan participated Wednesday in a conversation among local pastors who decided to hold a walk of mourning and restoration. The walkers will go down Church Street reading Scriptures of lament and saying the names of lives lost. The walk begins at Camping World Stadium and ends at Division Street in near downtown Orlando. It takes place Friday June 5 at 9:00 a.m. Bishop Noonan has passed the information along to local priests.
I will make the walk. Please join me. We will leave the Nativity parking lot at 7:30 a.m. Friday morning. The organizers ask that we wear black as a symbol of solidarity, mourning and unity. Bring your facemask for social distancing.
In normal times, Bishop Noonan comes to the parish once a year to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation. During this coronavirus pandemic, Bishop Noonan has delegated to me the responsibility to confirm. We have scheduled three separate Confirmation liturgies that will let our forty-five confirmandi and families and guests to remain socially distant and safe. The first Confirmation Mass is this Saturday, June 6 during the 8:30 a.m. morning Mass. You can view the Mass once it is recorded and uploaded on the parish website by 10 a.m.
Let’s play True or False with some statements about the Sacrament of Confirmation:
“The Sacrament of Confirmation confers the Holy Spirit.”
“During Confirmation, the Bishop slaps you.”
“The Sacrament of Confirmation is the sacrament of maturity and commitment to Christianity.”
Answers will be in Sunday’s faith reflection. If you can’t wait until Sunday, read the Catechism paragraphs 1285 to 1321 about the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Pray that the Lord fulfill his words for our young men and women preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation. “I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh. Your sons and daughters will prophesy” (Joel 3:1).
Returning to Church
Nativity Longwood .
on Thursday, June 4 at 10:00AM