The Bishops of England and Wales have decried the evil of racism and the brutal killing of George Floyd in a strongly-worded statement of solidarity with campaigners for racial justice in the USA.
In the message, released today and signed by Bishop Declan Lang, the Lead Bishop for International Affairs, and Bishop Paul McAleenan, Lead Bishop for Racial Justice, the Bishops’ Conference also condemned systemic racism in the UK.
This systemic racism, they say, is apparent in the disproportionate harm suffered by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people (BAME) during the COVID pandemic.
Catholics have a responsibility to promote racial justice, the bishops write, adding: “Whenever we ignore racism or dismiss BAME people’s experience of it, we are complicit in violations of human dignity.”
“We stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the USA as they challenge the evil of racism and the brutal killing of George Floyd. As the US Bishops made clear: “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 statement reads.
“Systemic racism is embedded in our own society. The disproportionate harm suffered by BAME people throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted profound inequalities, marginalisation and injustice here in the UK. The peaceful Black Lives Matter protests taking place in our towns and cities this week reflect the understandable anger that so many people feel about this.
“As Catholics we recognise that racism is an evil which must be opposed; we all have a responsibility for actively promoting racial justice. Whenever we ignore racism or dismiss BAME people’s experience of it, we are complicit in violations of human dignity. We pray for God’s help to overcome racism in all its forms and that we might protect everyone who suffers its consequences. We are all made in God’s image.”
The statement came as a number of members of Churches Together England (CTE) spoke out following the killing of George Floyd.
In a joint statement with the outgoing Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, one of CTE’s Presidents, said: “Recent events in the United States of America have once again drawn public attention to the ongoing evil of white supremacy. Systemic racism continues to cause incalculable harm across the world.
“Our hearts weep for the suffering caused – for those who have lost their lives, those who have experienced persecution, those who live in fear. God’s justice and love for all creation demands that this evil is properly confronted and tackled. Let us be clear: racism is an affront to God. It is born out of ignorance, and must be eradicated. We all bear the responsibility and must play our part to eliminate this scourge on humanity.
As Dr Martin Luther King Jr said, ‘In a real sense, we are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Therefore, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’
We pray that God’s abounding wisdom, compassion and love will guide leaders across the world to forge a better society.”