22 April 2021, The Tablet

US bishops call for 'healing' after Chauvin verdicts

US bishops call for 'healing' after Chauvin verdicts

Photo: Protest outside the US Embassy in London organised by group Black Lives Matter for George Floyd.
Pic credit: Raymong Tang/Alamy

Catholic bishops in the United States have called for “racial healing and reconciliation” in the wake of the Derek Chauvin guilty verdicts.

Former Minneapolis police officer Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts for the killing of George Floyd on Tuesday.

Speaking in the wake of the verdict on behalf of the US Catholic Bishop’s Conference, Bishop Shelton Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, chairman of the bshops’ committee against racism, and Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the committee on domestic justice and human development said: “As we receive this result, we recall that God is the source of all justice, love, and mercy. The death of George Floyd highlighted and amplified the deep need to see the sacredness in all people, but especially those who have been historically oppressed. Whatever the stage of human life, it not only matters, it is sacred.

“The events following George Floyd's death also highlighted the urgent need for racial healing and reconciliation. As we have seen so plainly this past year, social injustices still exist in our country, and the nation remains deeply divided on how to right those wrongs.”

Archbishop of Minneapolis Bernard Hebda said: “The verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer now convicted on all counts as a result of his role in the death of George Floyd last spring, is a sobering moment for our community. The decision by a jury of peers punctuates the grief that has gripped the Twin Cities in these last months and underscores the soul-searching that has taken place in homes, parishes, and workplaces across the country as we together confront the chasm that exists between the brokenness of our world and the harmony and fraternity that our Creator intends for all his children.

“We hold up once again the image of the Crucified Christ, whose resurrection gives witness to the healing power of forgiveness, compassion, reconciliation, and peace. It is our shared brotherhood with Jesus that calls us to a deeper respect for all human life. We ask him to bring healing into our communities, comfort to the family of George Floyd and all who mourn, and satisfaction to those who thirst for justice. May the many reminders of the Lord’s loving closeness even in challenging times inspire us to treat each other with unfailing respect, to work non-violently for the common good and to be instruments of reconciliation.”

Other American bishops also spoke out. Bishop Michael Fisher of Buffalo said: “Today’s verdict of accountability in the tragic killing of George Floyd is an important step in healing the deep wounds of racial tension caused by his senseless killing.

“The agonising images of his confrontation with those sworn to protect and serve, and the final moments of life, will forever challenge us and must always compel us to create a more compassionate and just society, where all enjoy equal rights and protections under the law.

“I implore all who wish to demonstrate to do so peacefully and in ways that lead to greater understanding, dialogue and meaningful change. We pray for the family and community of George Floyd that our loving and compassionate God will ease their pain and provide them comfort.”

Bishop of Lexington John Stowe said that Chauvin’s conviction on all counts “marks the beginning of an era of accountability for the violation of human dignity and the taking of human life by those in power”.

The bishop, president of Pax Christi USA, went on to call it “a long overdue result that finally brings justice for a Black victim of a brutal killing by police…This verdict respects both the rule of law and what the whole world watched on video. More importantly it affirms what has been shouted on our streets for nearly a year, George Floyd's life matters, Black lives matter.”

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