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  • Sr. Catherine Walsh

I Can't Breathe

Eight minutes and 46 seconds of suffocation that he whole world is seeing, George Floyd spoke his last words. He was murdered by one person, in Minneapolis USA, but in fact it is the result of systemic racism. Unless White America learns to repent of our White Privilege it is inevitable that more such deaths will follow.

Thousands of people across this country and indeed throughout the world march the streets speaking the words: “I can’t breathe”. How are we reacting? This is what I know. Racism is morally wrong. It is a sin. It is a personal and an institutional/systemic sin. Can we all face that truth?

The only reason for racism’s persistence is that White people benefit from it. Can we accept that truth? And what can I do about it? I sit here very uncomfortable. I accept that uncomfortableness. I and we ought to be uncomfortable, even outraged.

Here is what I can and promise to do:

I educate myself and take responsibility that others (especially Catholics) are also educated. Silence is betrayal, often seen as consent and too often complicit. I will broaden my understanding of “pro-life” to be unconditionally pro-life, as Pope Saint John Paul II called us to eradicate every form of racism in America” as part of my wholehearted and essential commitment to LIFE.

Racism is a moral and political issue. Racism is a social divide. I pray deeply for my own healing and the healing of all White Americans. I pray that we can ask for forgiveness, to be whole enough, to love well enough to shatter the small images of God that enable us to live uncaring with the racism that benefits some and terrorizes and even murders our sisters and brothers.

God’s love exposes self-serving, personal, political ideologies as shortsighted, corrosive and destructive. I pray that God leads us to understanding, compassion, confessions and a new desire to build solidarity, indeed to be a Church worthy of the name Christian and a new society whereby all peoples can flourish together. We should long for the “beloved community” that Jesus taught us to build.

What is the truth about Racism for you and what are you doing about it?

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