Pope Francis condemned racism and called for national reconciliation in the U.S. in his weekly Wednesday address, saying street violence is “self-defeating.”
The pope addressed the protests rocking the U.S. over the death of George Floyd, saying he has ’’witnessed with great concern the disturbing social unrest.”
Pope Francis called Floyd’s death “tragic” and said he was praying for “all those who have lost their lives as a result of the sin of racism,” The Associated Press and Reuters reported. But he also called for “the national reconciliation and peace for which we yearn.”
“My friends, we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life,” Francis said, according to Reuters.
“At the same time, we have to recognize that the violence of recent nights is self-destructive and self-defeating. Nothing is gained by violence and so much is lost,” he said.
Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died after a white officer in Minneapolis knelt on his neck for about nine minutes during his arrest, as Floyd said he couldn’t breathe and became unresponsive. Video of Floyd’s detainment has sparked outrage as protests erupt in cities across the country.
The president posed for photos in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church with a Bible on Monday after it endured a small fire in the basement due to the protests. He also visited a Catholic shrine for Saint John Paul II on Tuesday.
Some Christian leaders have criticized President Trump, saying he is using religious symbols for photo opportunities.
Others have praised him, with megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress saying it was “completely appropriate” for Trump to stand in front of the church.