Protests have erupted across the nation following the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man in Minneapolis. A viral video showed Floyd’s death as he lay face down in handcuffs, saying that he couldn’t breathe while a police officer kneeled on his neck.
What began as peaceful protests in Minneapolis have morphed into violent riots, arson, and looting. Citizens have been encouraged to stay in their homes as the riots spin out of control. Minnesota Governor Tim Waltz activated the state’s National Guard in an attempt to bring order and curb the violence.
The Most Rev. Bernard Hebda, Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, joined Morning Air® on Relevant Radio® to shed some light on what is unfolding in his community. Last night, much of the destruction was just down the street from where the Archbishop lives, and he described seeing the flames and smelling the smoke as local businesses burned.
“I live in the Frogtown section of Saint Paul with lots of immigrant families as well, and as I drove down University Avenue which is the main street in our neighborhood, I noticed all of the shop owners boarding up their shops because they’re so afraid,” said Archishop Hebda.
How can the Church and the faithful respond in the face of such unrest and the injustice of Floyd’s death?
“We are responding with prayer. And certainly the situation is grave and we’re looking for as many opportunities as we can to bring that great ointment, that salve and comfort of prayer into this situation. We were blessed that it’s just been this week we started having larger Mass gatherings as well, and so we have that opportunity for our faithful to gather with their priests and to pray at the Eucharist. We’ve asked all the priests today to pray the Mass for the preservation of peace and justice.”
He offered some comfort for the faithful of his diocese and those across the country watching the events unfold: “Jesus does not want us to be afraid. How many times does he tell us, ‘Be not afraid?’”
Archbishop Hebda also suggested that we invoke the intercession of our Blessed Mother, Queen of Peace and Undoer of Knots to bring about peace and justice in this situation.
“There was obviously a great deal of anger that was underlying our community much before the really devastating death of George Floyd. Obviously there’s a lot of anger out there that would erupt in this way, and so we ask for the Blessed Mother’s help to guide us in how do we begin to address those issues.”
The death of George Floyd was a catalyst for the eruption we’ve seen these past few days, but the ongoing injustice of racism in our nation is the root of immeasurable pain and division. Archbishop Hebda recognizes the role that the Catholic Church must play in addressing racism within the Church and our society.
‘That’s certainly an issue that makes us uncomfortable when we delve too deep into it. … We live here in the Twin Cities in a very diverse area where we have people from all over the world and we certainly have to learn how to be able to respect people. And I think the Church has a great role in that; we speak so beautifully about the dignity of each human life, whether when we’re talking about abortion or speaking about euthanasia. But we have to really go deeper in that as well as we talk about those issues of prejudice that indicate that we don’t always have that respect for each human life.”
Listen to the full interview here:
Hear more from Morning Air weekdays at 5-8am CT only on Relevant Radio.