In the wake of the brutal murder of George Floyd in Minnesota last week, seven bishops in high positions within the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have decided to publicly condemn racism.
"We are brokenhearted, sickened and outraged to watch another video of an African-American man being killed before our very eyes," they write in a statement released Friday, following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. "This is the latest wake-up call that needs to be answered by each of us in a spirit of determined conversion."
The bishops recognize racism is alive and well in the 21st century. "Racism is not a thing of the past or simply a throwaway political issue to be bandied about when convenient," they say. "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," the prelates warn. "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."
The bishops do not indicate who they think is turning "a blind eye" to such brutality. No one of any race, political party or ideology denies the grave evil of the atrocious act that killed George Floyd. And people of goodwill pray for his soul and his family and demand justice for the act.
On the other hand, there are many people, non-Catholic and Catholic alike, who do deny many other acts the Church teaches are intrinsic evils, such as contraception, sterilization, fornication, abortion, divorce with remarriage, homosexual acts, pornography, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research and vaccines using cell lines from murdered preborn children.
In fact, these grave evils, which severely damage and disfigure the lives of individuals, the family and society, are not only ignored by most Catholics, but are condoned as morally acceptable and/or practiced by a great majority of them. Yet, for the past 45 years, bishops and priests, in general, have "turned a blind eye" to most of these evils, and by their silence have left the faithful to the wolves unprotected.
Nevertheless, the bishops decided to write another letter on racism, an evil that most people recognize as evil, and on a brutal murder in Minneapolis that everyone recognizes as evil, so we respectfully listen.
"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," they write. The sin of racism has not been conquered, say the bishops, pointing to this latest episode of police brutality. "[W]e are not doing enough to point out that this deadly treatment is antithetical to the Gospel of Life," they said.
Yes, murdering a defenseless human being by standing on his neck certainly is deadly treatment and antithetical to the Gospel of Life. Except for those with evil hearts, is there anyone who disagrees with this?
"For people of color, some interactions with police can be fraught with fear and even danger," they say. "People of good conscience must never turn a blind eye when citizens are being deprived of their human dignity and even their lives."
Again, is there anyone who "turns a blind eye" to this crime? Everyone on all sides of the spectrum condemns it and demands that it never happens again. Can we say the same thing about those "deprived of human dignity and even their lives" who are in their embryonic and fetal stages of life?
The evil of police killing an innocent man is not legal and no one is calling for its legality. But where are statements and the moral outrage over the 1.2 million murders of preborn children each year in the United States by surgical means, and 10 times that amount of prenatal murders by chemical pills and the IUD?
Approximately 33,000 innocent human beings were intentionally killed today in America and no official statements have been released recently on their behalf. Rather, people are still being arrested for praying on their behalf. How is this morally possible, especially by those who understand that all human beings, from the moment of their conception, are equally endowed with human dignity as images of God?
Literally thousands of human beings like George Floyd are being killed before their birth each and every day in the United States, unjustly deprived of their lives and futures, and they are disproportionately black preborn Americans.
At the end of their statement, the bishops assured their prayers for Mr. Floyd and his family, as they "anticipate a full investigation that results in rightful accountability and actual justice." The bishops conclude by suggesting we seek a greater understanding between God's people, especially those historically oppressed, so that systematic "change" may occur.
It was a year and a half ago that the U.S. bishops wrote a long, pastoral letter condemning racism, called Open Wide Our Hearts. Their passion and guidance is laudable. But where is a long, pastoral letter lately condemning any of the evils named above that have decimated the black family in America and killed a disproportionate number of innocent black children? That impassioned letter needs to be issued soon.
Issuing the statement is Bp. Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism; Abp. Nelson J. Pérez of Philadelphia, chairman of the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church; Abp. Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Abp. Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities; Bp. Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, chairman of the Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs; Bp. David G. O'Connell, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, chairman of the Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development; and Bp. Joseph N. Perry, auxiliary bishop of Chicago, chairman of the Subcommittee on African American Affairs.