In an interview with Vatican News, Chairman of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism Bishop Fabre spoke on “systemic racism” facing the United States in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
Fabre said Floyd’s death brought “many emotions” into the mind’s and hearts of people everywhere, evident from demonstrations (and in some cases, rioting) spreading worldwide in protest.
“There is naturally a brokenheartedness and a sadness, a righteous outrage and a righteous anger manifested at the fact that we continue to struggle with a loss of lives as a consequence of racism.”
He said the death of another black person in police custody was “unbelievable” and a complete disregard for the dignity of another person.
“Not having that responded to is just beyond belief. People want to do something, they want to help. Within all of that pain, and all of that struggle, and all of that outrage, and all that righteous anger, there are also people constantly asking themselves ‘what can I do?’ Some are examining their own hearts, guided by the Holy Spirit.”
He said he believes the the root of the issue lies in racism that has persisted since the founding of the United States.
“Something that we in the United States have been struggling with since the birth of our nation: racism. Thinking that people who are of a different race – people of color – are less than me because of their race.”
Speaking on the coronavirus pandemic, Fabre said it “revealed racial realities” but stressed that “the roots of the current situation do not lie only in the pandemic,” but rather in systemic racism.
“They are deep, historical roots that are part of the disregard for life in this country and our inability or unwillingness to address the issue of race and racism.”
Fabre ended saying that the US Bishops are “calling for an end to” to the riots and that the Church “does not condone violence,” but calls instead for peaceful protest.
“A lot of attention is being given right now to a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King. It says that a riot is the language of the unheard. While we certainly condemn the violence of riots, we understand the frustration and the outrage of people who are also engaging in peaceful protest to attempt to get people to hear them.”