Pope thanked Texas priest who took a knee at protest to pray for George Floyd
Pope Francis on Wednesday praised a Texas bishop after he knelt with protesters during a demonstration against the death of George Floyd.
Bishop Mark Seitz of the Diocese of El Paso, Texas, was the first U.S. Catholic bishop to join the protests that have erupted across the country following Floyd’s death, according to the Catholic News Agency.
Seitz told the El Paso outlet El Paso Matters that he received a two- to three-minute call from Pope Francis on Wednesday. They spoke in Spanish, and the pope “said he wanted to congratulate me,” Seitz said.
“I told the pope that I felt it was very important at this time for us to show our solidarity with those who are suffering. And I told him that I had just come from Mass in which I was praying for him, as I always do, of course,” Seitz told El Paso Matters. “And he thanked me and said something kind of beautiful for me. He said that whenever we celebrate Mass, we are united. We’re praying together, he where he is and me at the border. And those were his words.”
Floyd died last week after a former Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. In bystander video, Floyd can be heard saying that he can’t breathe.
Seitz joined a protest on Monday and knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in prayer in honor of Floyd, the Catholic News Agency reported. The bishop held a sign that read “Black Lives Matter.”
The organization the Hope Border Institute shared photos from the protest.
The first Catholic bishop to do so, @BishopSeitz, surrounded by his #ElPaso clergy, takes a knee to lead #nineminutes of silence to remember #GeorgeFloyd and pray for peace and justice. #BlackLivesMatter #ICantBreathe pic.twitter.com/x8da0fhIft
— HopeBorderInstitute (@HopeBorder) June 2, 2020
The pope condemned racism and called for reconciliation in his weekly address Wednesday. He said he has “witnessed with great concern the disturbing social unrest.”
He also called Floyd’s death “tragic” and said that he is praying for “all those who have lost their lives as a result of the sin of racism.”