Bishop Solis asks for prayers during the unrest
Friday, Jun. 05, 2020
SALT LAKE CITY — On May 30, Bishop Oscar A. Solis sent a memo to all clergy, religious, diocesan staff and seminarians regarding the national protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
The statement said in part,
“Once again, our communities have been ripped apart by incidents of violence and the culture of death. The entire nation has witnessed the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery in the past weeks, plunging our nation into deeper division and polarization. Unfortunately, the understandable anger and despair so many are feeling have also led some to answer violence with more violence. But the answer to violence, including the violence of prejudice, does not lie in burning our common home down, destroying other people’s properties and looting but in peaceful protest, including voting, being counted in the Census, and advocating against unjust systems.”
The memo was sent on the eve of the Feast of Pentecost, and Bishop Solis pointed out that the solemnity “reminds all the people of God that our call is to see Christ in every human being, to protect the dignity and sanctity of all life, and to give voice to the Gospel of Love and Life. Pentecost speaks of a passion for peace, love and unity. The gifts of the Holy Spirit empower us to be agents of change and transformation – to bring healing to the sick and suffering, peace in the midst of violence and hatred, and unity in our broken and divided world. It calls us to join as one humankind, with all of our different races, ethnicities, genders, languages and cultures, to raise up human dignity and to stand against injustice with those who face it on a daily basis.”
The bishop continued, “As we strive to come together to stop the spread of the pandemic, there are those among us who have the unfortunate and added burden of overcoming the staggering inequalities in our economic, political, legal and social structures every moment of their lives. For generations, Black Americans and other minorities have faced not just personal acts of animosity based in prejudice, but entire systems designed by and for the benefit of one race at the expense of another. Systems that keep the poorest among us in poverty, that assume individuals of certain colors are due less respect, have less dignity, are more inclined to bad acts.”
He added, “We must learn to listen to the voices of our brothers and sisters who are discriminated against, and raise the voices God has given each of us to challenge the culture of death evidenced in violence, inequality and injustice not only against innocent lives of the unborn, the sick and the elderly, but also against our Black brothers and sisters and other people of race, faith affiliation, sexual orientation and economic status.”
The day before Bishop Solis’ memo, seven U.S. bishops who are chairmen of committees within the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement regarding George Floyd’s death and the related protests that broke out in Minneapolis and in other cities. Referring to that statement, Bishop Solis said in his memo, “As my brother Bishops stated in the wake of the death of George Floyd, ‘Racism is not a thing of the past or simply a throwaway political issue to be bandied about when convenient. It is a real and present danger that must be met head on. As members of the Church, we must stand for the more difficult right and just actions instead of the easy wrongs of callous indifference. We cannot turn a blind eye to these atrocities and yet still try to profess to respect every human life. We serve a God of love, mercy, compassion and justice.’”
Bishop Solis said, “Our silence, our indifference, is complicit in the death of so many people, not only of George Floyd but other minorities, the migrants dying at our borders, and far too many others. It is abundantly clear that racism is a life issue. We, as a church that professes the dignity and sanctity of every life, simply cannot stand silent in the face of daily assaults on that dignity and sanctity, whether in the form of disenfranchising Black voters, threatening Black men and women engaged in peaceful and lawful activities, or unwarranted assumptions leading to unnecessary brutality against suspected wrongdoers. Our response must be rooted in our Gospel beliefs, which eschew violent action but encourage us to advocate for systemic change.”
In closing his memo, Bishop Solis asked that parishes take five steps on Pentecost and during the first week of June: to offer the Masses for those who have died from the pandemic, violence, discrimination and other forms of injustice; to include in the Masses one or more of the suggested Prayers of the Faithful found at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/racism/racism-prayers-of-the-faithful.cfm; and to inform parishioners of “Open Wide Our Hearts,” the USCCB’s pastoral letter on racism, with accompanying study guides and other materials.
In addition, the bishop asked that on June 5, the First Friday of the month, parishes provide the opportunity for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament/Benediction to pray for healing from coronavirus, end of war, racism and for unity and peace in our nation and the world. He also asked that on June 6, the First Saturday of the month, that parishioners be encouraged to pray the rosary and seek the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for all these intentions.