Catholic bishops of Wisconsin release statement on unjust killing and recent protests

ALLOUEZ – The Catholic bishops of Wisconsin released a statement June 2 on the death of George Floyd and the protests that have followed.

“In this traumatic time, we join with our brother bishops and committee chairmen of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in expressing our anger and tremendous sorrow over the recent brutal death of George Floyd and the violence that people of color have suffered at the hands of vigilantes and unprincipled public authorities across our nation,” the bishops wrote. “These unjust acts have unfortunately plagued our state and nation for centuries. All of us must respond with prayer, solidarity, and solace for the victims and their families, but this continuing brutality calls for even greater effort and action.”

The bishops encourage all people to examine their attitudes about racism “that contribute to a culture of disrespect of the dignity and rights of every human person.” They reference the letter issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on May 29: “People of good conscience must never turn a blind eye when citizens are being deprived of their human dignity and even their lives.  Indifference is not an option. ‘As bishops, we unequivocally state that racism is a life issue.’”

The Catholic bishops of Wisconsin said they support those “who speak out against injustice and applaud efforts to peaceably protest against the murder of George Floyd and others who have been struck down by prejudice and abuse of power.” They also call for “condemn the actions of those who resort to violence, which only further damages underserved communities and distracts from the issues that need our attention.”

Parishes are encouraged to engage in formation and activities designed to address racism, the bishops write, and they offer the U.S. bishops’ 2018 pastoral letter against racism, “Open Wide Our Hearts, and its accompanying study guide as one example.

“We ask our pastors and lay people to reach out personally to their fellow parishioners who face daily discrimination and who are experiencing so much sorrow and pain,” the bishops said. Individual Catholics are urged to find local resources and organizations that combat racism and share these resources with their parishes.

“We pray for the countless lives brutally ended by acts of oppression,” the bishops said. “We pledge to their families and communities that the Catholic Church stands with them and will redouble its efforts to hold perpetrators accountable, to advocate for just laws, and to offer our time and our treasure so that all may live in freedom and dignity.”

The letter was signed by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki of Milwaukee, Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay, Bishop Donald J. Hying of Madison, Bishop William P. Callahan of La Crosse, and Bishop James P. Powers of Superior. Read the letter at this link.