Listen to Lift Others Up in Love

May 31, 2020

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In his weekly Gospel reflection, Des Moines Bishop William Joensen addressed the current state of affairs in light of the celebration of Pentecost and the Holy Spirit among us.

"The COVID-19 contagion has most of us uneasy, perpetually on edge. . . Then the heat is turned up in the simmering state of affairs when we witness those who are trained to protect the public peace using their powers to deny or worse destroy life rather than guard it. We must let the justice system do its job. But to any common sense observer of the video and accounts of what happened to Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Breonna Taylor in Louisville and this week searingly, shockingly to George Floyd in that asphyxiation that took place in south Minneapolis. Family and friends grieve their passing. But all of humanity, all of us citizens feel violated and wounded and incensed by what we have seen and heard, or more accurately what was not heard: “I can’t breathe.” What sort of person does not identify with that panic, the helplessness of such a cry? It doesn’t matter what nationality or what skin color, whether our ancestors were slave or free persons, each of us knows what it is to be totally dependent on someone else to hear us when we cry out -- to make the first response one that recognizes life, human life, life gifted by the Author of life, make that first response be one of listening. Listening is that most basic gesture of respect. It’s the prelude to building up one another in love so that the words that we can then speak, words of praise, words of encouragement, words that maybe sometimes are protest and anger, will ultimately not be our words alone but it will be the Spirit that is speaking through us."

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement Sunday on George Floyd and the protests in American cities that have taken place over the last several days. This follows the Friday statement from seven U.S. bishop chairmen of committees within the USCCB.

Two years ago, the U.S. bishops issued a pastoral letter on racism called Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love  -- A Pastoral Letter Against Racism