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Bishop W. Shawn McKnight statement in response to verdict in Derek Chauvin murder trial

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In response to the verdict of guilty in the ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin trial for the killing of George Floyd in May 2020, Bishop W. Shawn McKnight has issued the following statement:

While the trial of Derek Chauvin has finished and our justice system moves forward, we must still face the reality that we are not done with racism.

In our own communities, including in the Diocese of Jefferson City, individuals are being humiliated and denigrated because of their race. Their human dignity is being crushed and defiled because they are seen as “other” or “less than.”

Let me be clear: All human beings are our sisters and brothers, no matter their race, language or creed. Violence motivated by racism must stop.

As my brother bishops wrote last May, “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 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, and justice.”

To take a stance for right and just actions requires something more than declaring “I am not a racist.” It requires each of us to look at how we are impacted by the culture in which we live. Let’s be honest with ourselves: racism is always and everywhere wrong—an intrinsic evil—and it may exist even where we who are white do not see it. It is too easy and dishonest to be indifferent to racism, to tell ourselves we have nothing to do with the pain and suffering, the terror, which some people who are not white internalize each day.

Activities that white people take for granted – attending public events, shopping, walking by an impromptu social gathering – can be moments of humiliation and danger. We believe that God has created all human beings equal. We cannot be indifferent to this deprivation of basic human dignity which eventually endangers human lives.

In our most recent pastoral letter against racism, Open Wide Our Hearts, the US Catholic bishops call for Catholics to understand: “Racism is a life issue.”

Racism will only stop if each one of us makes a deep commitment to conversion.

I pray for an awakening of consciences in every American, but especially in our faithful. I pray for the repose of the soul of George Floyd, for Derek Chauvin, for their family and friends, and for all who have lost their lives due to racial violence.

I also ask all people to join with me in praying for a conversion of hearts and minds, beginning with ourselves. This is the only way to end violence and bring about real peace in our communities. I am grateful to those who are seen as minorities in our country, who suffer great persecution and hardship, and yet endeavor to persevere and remain faithful to God’s desire that all people should live in peace and harmony.