George Floyd’s murder demanded more from the Catholic Church
We may not recall where we were or what we were doing at the time. However, most of us do remember what we thought and how we felt watching the video of George Floyd plead desperately for his life one year ago in Minneapolis, Minn.
Here was a man, who was already handcuffed with his hands behind his back, lying face down in the street with a police officer pressing his knee firmly onto his neck. All were transfixed by this public spectacle of death. It lasted over 9 minutes.
Most were stricken in some way: Disbelief. Horror. Outrage. Powerlessness. I cried out in a loud voice, "In the name of God, STOP!" Afterward the nation convulsed in pain and outrage.
Today, one year after the murder of George Floyd, the first episode of my new podcast in partnership with America Media premieres. My guest is Father Erich Rutten, the pastor of St. Peter Claver Church, a historically Black Catholic parish in St. Paul, Minn. We talk about his experience as a white pastor ministering to a black Catholic community amid all that trauma and pain of the past year. We also discuss the response from Catholic pastors across the country and what the church needs to do to help heal from this trauma.
One year later, I’m not feeling healed. We have a lot to atone for. If we can't see how the centuries of many personal sins with regard to race are affecting us now, and if we can’t see that we have the responsibility to make amends and repair for the damage caused by those sins, I think we have forgotten what it means to be Catholic. And I am not saying it’s easy. I’m exhausted thinking about what has to happen. But at the same time I am motivated by justice and love of neighbor to want to do something, to persevere and struggle. We’re all in this together!