Cardinals black and white have spoken out about George Floyd's death, and the Vatican’s communications juggernaut has shifted into overdrive to draw attention to the cause he now represents, per the AP. Last week, Pope Francis denounced the "sin of racism" and twice identified Floyd as the victim of a "tragic" killing. In a message read in Italian and English during his general audience, Francis expressed concerns about violence during the protests, saying it was self-destructive. He also said, "We cannot close our eyes to any form of racism or exclusion, while pretending to defend the sacredness of every human life." It was a clear effort to call out some conservative US Catholics for whom the abortion issue is paramount, while other "life" issues dear to Francis—racism, immigration, the death penalty, and poverty—play second fiddle at the ballot box.
Under normal circumstances, Floyd’s killing at the hands of a white police officer and the global protests denouncing racism and police brutality might have drawn a muted diplomatic response from the Holy See. But in a US election year, the intensity and consistency of the Vatican's reaction suggests that, from the pope on down, it's seeking to encourage anti-racism protesters while making a clear statement about where US Catholics should stand ahead of President Trump's bid for a second term in November. Francis "wants to send a very clear message to these conservative Catholics here who are pro-Trumpers that, 'Listen, this is just as much of an issue as abortion is,'" says Anthea Butler, a presidential visiting fellow at Yale Divinity School. Butler, who is African American, says the Vatican is telling Catholics "to pay attention to the racism that is happening and the racism that is in your own church in America." More here on the Vatican's messaging.
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