Young people in our diocese have frequently heard me tell them that the foundational principle of Catholic social teaching is the following: Every human person is made in the image and likeness of God. Period. It’s in the Sacred Scriptures (Genesis 1:27).

No further qualification is necessary to know or understand why every person has certain inalienable rights, including life, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness. It does not matter where a person was born; the person’s ethnic or racial background; the person’s first language; his or her economic status; etc.

During the past several days, the last words of George Floyd, “I can’t breathe,” have echoed across the world. It reminded me that the human life of the Lord Jesus ended when he “uttered a loud cry and breathed his last” (Mark 15:37). Today’s loud cry must be for a renewed respect and love for every human person, regardless of race, religion, ethnic origin, or political interests.

I urge everyone to take to heart the words of Pope Francis in his statement concerning the tragic death of George Floyd and the violence that has followed:

“My friends, we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life. At the same time, we have to recognize that “the violence of recent nights is self-destructive and self-defeating. Nothing is gained by violence and so much is lost”.

I pray for George Floyd and his family and loved ones. I pray for everyone. I pray for you. Please reflect on the circumstances of his death, and the violent reaction that it has caused. It’s for this reason and for the good of all that I will never stop reminding people, especially our young people, that every human person is made in the image and likeness of God.

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