Press Release – For Immediate Release
Washington, DC (June 15, 2020)
St. John Paul II wrote in 1988 that “[a]bove all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights –for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture – is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.” Christifideles Laici, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, 1988.
St. John Paul II’s words on the right to life call us all to a righteous anger about the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota. As Jesus Christ taught and St. John Paul II reminded us, each human being is made in the image and likeness of God and therefore each person’s life has invaluable dignity and worth that must always be defended with maximum determination.
George Floyd was made in the image and likeness of God. Tragically, his right to life was not defended with maximum determination. His life was unjustly taken by the immoral act of a police officer whose duty was to protect and defend. The fact that it happened and can happen again is a serious moral injustice.
At the Christ Medicus Foundation we seek to defend the dignity and gift of life and the right to religious freedom in health care and to share the love of God through Christ-centered medical care. At CMF, we know that the fight to defend every life from conception to natural death and to protect religious freedom are the preeminent social issues of our time. These rights are vital in part because if we fail to defend the right to life and the right to freely worship, think, and love consistent with our moral or religious convictions, the basis for all other civil rights collapse.
The right to life of Mr. Floyd was violated, and we have a moral obligation to speak out and to demand an end to acts of unjust violence and an end to the unjust killing of all people, who God made in His image.
We do not know what was in the hearts of the officers involved in Mr. Floyd’s death, but we do painfully know of the history of racism in the United States. We do know that racism is a serious offense against the culture of life and seriously violates the dignity of the human person. As people of the culture of life, we must actively promote and defend every life and address any sin of racism as a violation of this culture of life.
We, who are Catholic, fail to show the full power of the Catholic witness if we refuse out of fear, indifference, ignorance, or inconvenience, to speak out against the unjust killing of human life. As Catholics we stand in solidarity with our African American brothers and sisters and call for justice to prevail.
In calling for justice, we must keep in mind the truth that the rule of law founded on the right to life is absolutely necessary to protecting the dignity and civil rights of every person.
The rioting and looting, which are criminal acts that undermine appropriate peaceful protests, must stop.
The demonization of law enforcement officers, who overwhelmingly seek only to protect and defend, must stop.
Efforts to hijack the legitimate civil rights movement to create social unrest and undermine the just rule of law must stop.
Efforts to use the death of Mr. Floyd to further usher in the culture of death must stop.
Now is a time to peacefully demand legitimate criminal justice reforms in police departments and prosecutors’ offices to safeguard the dignity and rights of every person.
Now is the time for us as Catholics to pray and make spiritual reparation for the sin of racism and discrimination and implore God’s healing divine mercy on our nation.
Now is the time as Catholics to seek healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation, in the name of Jesus Christ, with our brothers and sisters of every color.
Now is the time to be instruments of healing and wholeness to the many young people on the streets in need of the love of God.
When we seek healing and forgiveness in our own hearts and in the hearts of others and seek true justice in our society, then we can know that we have faithfully lived God’s ultimate commandment: to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our minds, with all our bodies, and with all our soul, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
St. John Paull II would tell Americans today to remember who we are. Our country has only ever achieved justice through movements founded in love, defending innocent human life, and fighting for true human freedom. Now again, in today’s challenge, we must “be not afraid” to defend every human life, reject the culture of death, and fight to unleash the most powerful force in history: love.