(Rewritten using Pope Francis’ message on Armenian genocide as inspiration)
Innocent people are dying at the hands of police every day. There is not one family untouched by the loss of loved ones due to killing and beating tragedies perpetrated by officers sworn to protect and serve them. It is a “Great Evil” in our world and country. Forty-seven years after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, black males are being slaughtered on streets and sidewalks, Tasered and killed by bullets before they have a chance to defend themselves in court. Our whole world needs to address this issue, pause, and pray for peace for our families and communities, especially for non-white people in the “developed” world.
Today is a propitious occasion for us to pray together to God and to His Saints for deliverance. A list of saints we revere and pray to are St. Benedict the Moor, patron saint of Blacks in U.S.; St. Augustine of Hippo, St Josephine Bakhita of Sudan; St. Maurice of Egypt, patron saint of southern Germany and parts of France, Spain, Italy, and Switzerland; St. Monica of Hippo, St. Augustine’s mother; Martín de Porres of Lima, Peru, patron saint of the Poor; St. Moses the Black of Egypt, St. Peter Claver of Spain, St. Bessarion the Great of Egypt, St. Antonio Vieira, born in Portugal; St. Anthony the Great of Egypt, St. Pierre Toussaint of Haiti, St. Mary of Egypt, patron saint of chastity; St. Julian and St. Basilissa , and St. Thais of Egypt.
We are a sinful and sorrowful humanity, oppressed by the anguish of its powerlessness, but illuminated by the splendor of God’s love. We are praying for God’s saving intervention which is capable of transforming all things. Our belief in God is indeed ancient, and we have overcome many trials and sufferings, animated by the hope which comes from above. This faith has accompanied and sustained during the tragic experience of slavery, during Emancipation, during lynchings, during the Civil Rights movement, and today during the time of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Eric Harris, Calvon Reid, Walter Scott, Nicholas Thomas, and a long list of those suffering at the hands of night watchmen and police.
On April 12th, a total of 88 black men have been reported killed by police since 2015 began, representing 37% of killings by police when black men represent only 7% of the U.S. male population. According to Ras Memnon, “young Black males are 21 times more likely to die by the hands of police than their White counterparts. Every Black parent, unlike White parents, has to worry about White cops brutalizing or killing their children, especially males.”
It is our responsibility, the entire human family, to help all subjugated and oppressed people and heed these tragic warnings, seeking to protect us from falling into a similar horror, which offends God and human dignity. If these atrocities can happen to one, they can happen to all. These conflicts may degenerate into unjustifiable violence, stirred up by exploiting ethnic and religious differences. All who are Heads of State and of International Organizations are called to oppose such crimes with a firm sense of duty, without ceding to ambiguity or compromise.
May these sorrowful events make us have humble and sincere reflection, and may every heart be open to forgiveness, which is the source of peace and renewed hope. “Remember, [Lord,]… those of the human race who are our enemies as well, and for their benefit accord them pardon and mercy… Do not destroy those who persecute me, but reform them, root out the vile ways of this world, and plant the good in me and them.” May God grant oppressed people around the world peace. May we take up the path of reconciliation. Despite conflicts and tensions, we seek peaceful coexistence, solidarity and mutual help, even in the midst of violence. Only in this way will new generations open themselves to a better future and will the sacrifice of so many become seeds of justice and peace. May we find ourselves in deep prayer. May it strengthen the bonds of fraternal friendship between all religious groups.
Taking refuge beneath Your boundless wings which grant us the protection of Your intercession, we lift up our hands to you, oh God, and with unquestioned hope, we believe that we are saved.