“There is no place for hatred, anger, violence, prejudice and racism,” Bishop Salvatore R. Matano proclaimed May 31, during the homily of a livestreamed Mass he celebrated just hours after a night of violence rocked the city of Rochester and surrounding areas.
Bishop Matano joined Pope Francis and bishops throughout the United States in urging Americans to pray for an end to violence and racism. These calls came in the wake of the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Four officers of the Minneapolis Police Department have been charged in his death.
Protests against racism and police brutality since have broken out across the nation. Many of those events, including a May 30 demonstration in downtown Rochester, have been marked by violence. The Rochester event itself proceeded peacefully, but was followed by the burning of several Rochester Police Department cruisers and a night of violence and looting. The City of Rochester and Monroe County enacted curfews May 30 and 31 and kept people off the streets overnight.
During this time of fear about the coronavirus pandemic coupled with unrest and violence across through the nation, people must turn to prayer, Bishop Matano said during the passionate homily he delivered May 31.
“Don’t you think the time has come to pray, and to pray seriously?” Bishop Matano asked.
Bishop Matano echoed those sentiments in a statement released June 5.
“How shall we sustain our communities and endure these great losses? The only answer is placing ourselves in the hands of the Lord as we seek solutions to curing the coronavirus and ending acts of inhumanity,” Bishop Matano wrote.
Bishop Matano joined his brother bishops in prayer and supported a May 31 statement from Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Archbishop Gomez decried Floyd’s killing — calling it “senseless and brutal” — as well as racism he said has been tolerated “for far too long in our way of life.”
“We should not let it be said that George Floyd died for no reason. We should honor the sacrifice of his life by removing racism and hate from our hearts and renewing our commitment to fulfill our nation’s sacred promise — to be a beloved community of life, liberty, and equality for all,” Archbishop Gomez wrote.
During his livestreamed general audience on June 3, Pope Francis prayed for the repose of the souls of Floyd and all those who have died “as a result of the sin of racism.”
“Let us pray for the consolation of their grieving families and friends, and let us implore the national reconciliation and peace for which we yearn,” the pope said.
The pope added that no one can claim to defend the sanctity of every human life while turning a blind eye to racism, a sentiment Bishop Matano echoed in his May 31 homily and his June 5 statement.
“Our faith has always had an unbroken heritage of respect for all human life from the moment of conception until natural death. Whether we agree or disagree with a person, we still always must in charity realize every person is a child of God,” the bishop declared during his homily.
Every person is made in the image and likeness of God, Bishop Matano reiterated in the statement.
“Can’t we agree that injustice, anger, violence, prejudice and racism must not define who we are as the sons and daughters of God? Do we believe in those two great commandments given to us by Jesus: ‘Love God and love your neighbor as yourself’?” Bishop Matano asked.
“I unite with my brother bishops throughout our country, with other faith communities and with all people of good will in praying for healing, the restoration of peace and an end to violence and racism which scar the dignity of every person,” Bishop Matano wrote. “With the support and prayers of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, we continue to work for that day when, regardless of our differences, we conduct our lives with civility, charity, honesty and mutual respect.”
Contains reporting from Catholic News Service.