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It is hard to find the words to describe the pain, grief and anger our community is experiencing right now, but silence is not an option. The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police Officers was unjust. It goes against the principles of Catholic Social Teaching that guide us at Catholic Charities and my own deeply held values. This tragedy tears at the fibers that bring us together and shines a harsh light on the systemic injustices that too many must confront every single day of their lives.
We are one human family – what affects one of us, affects all of us.
George Floyd was killed not far from several Catholic Charities locations serving children and adults, where staff work hard to build a culture of safety and community for individuals who have experienced unthinkable trauma in their lives. They are reeling, and our staff are at a loss to provide comfort.
Hundreds of Catholic Charities staff who work on our shelter and emergency services teams share something in common with George Floyd; he worked at Harbor Lights shelter in Minneapolis, committed to our most vulnerable neighbors and working to create hope and opportunity.
At a time when words seem to fail, I turn to the wisdom of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:
“People often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they cannot communicate; they cannot communicate because they are separated.”
We cannot be numb. We cannot separate ourselves from the injustices in our community. And we must not stop communicating, even if it’s hard to find the words.
The mission of Catholic Charities is to serve those most in need and to advocate for justice in the community. We stand with all those who are working to confront the systemic racism and prejudice that created the conditions that allowed George Floyd to die so tragically.
As I write, our community is shaking with emotion and violence. We don’t know what today or the weekend will bring. We are concerned about the safety and wellbeing of our clients, staff, all of you, and our entire community. We must pursue peace. We know it is only possible if we also pursue justice.
Our prayers are with the family and friends of George Floyd, all of you and our entire community as we move forward, together.