Pope Francis addressed American viewers during his weekly general audience Wednesday, condemning racism as he prayed for the repose of the soul of George Floyd and made it clear that turning a "blind eye" to the issue is unacceptable. According to Catholic publication The Crux, the Pope addressed the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests across the world during his June 3 address live-streamed from the library of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace.
Addressing his "dear brothers and sisters in the United States," the Pope said he has watched with "great concern" the "disturbing social unrest in your nation in these past days, following the tragic death of Mr. George Floyd." He continued, "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."
He then condemned the violence that has broken out amid the peaceful protests, calling it "self-destructive and self-defeating." Pope Francis added, "Nothing is gained by violence and so much is lost." Joining together with the churches of Saint Paul and Minneapolis as well as across the U.S., Pope Francis then prayed for the repose of Floyd's soul "and of all those others who have lost their lives as a result of the sin of racism."
Also asking for prayers for the grieving members of the families of those lost and the communities in mourning, he asked that Our Lady of Guadalupe intercede for "all those who work for peace and justice in your land and throughout the world," asking that people implore "the national reconciliation and peace for which we yearn."
Tuesday, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights announced it had filed a complaint against the Minneapolis Police Department and will launch an investigation into the organization spanning back a decade to determine if Minneapolis police officers have systemically violated human and civil rights. Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero said during Tuesday's news conference, "This is not about holding people personally criminally liable. This is about systems change." The report, she added, will allow not only for immediate action guidance but also longterm legal action against the department.
After he was videotaped kneeling on Floyd's neck for several minutes as the 46-year-old Minnesota man pleaded that he could not breathe, police officer Derek Chauvin was fired and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Three other officers were fired for their involvement in Floyd's arrest and detainment, but have yet to be charged.