Catholic Bishop Mark Seitz had no idea that his act of solidarity in El Paso would be met with a phone call of gratitude from Pope Francis.
On Monday, Seitz and 12 other priests from the Diocese of El Paso knelt in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, with eyes closed, face masks, white roses, and handwritten signs that read “Black Lives Matter.”
“Frankly, what I did and what I have said is only a very small way to take part in what so many are doing in their peaceful protests,” Seitz said.
Two days after the silent prayer in EL Paso, Seitz had just finished celebrating a Mass when he got a call from Pope Francis himself.
Speaking in Spanish, the pontiff told Seitz how grateful he was for Seitz’s response to Floyd’s death.
“Through me, he’s expressing his unity with everyone who is willing to step out and say this needs to change,” Seitz said. “This should never happen again. Wherever there is a lack of respect for human beings, where there’s a judgment based on the color of their skin, this has to be rooted out,”
Seitz continued: “Whether it’s in law enforcement, in business, in government, in any aspect of our society, this has to change. And now we know very clearly that the Holy Father is making this his prayer.”
Pope Francis’ addressed Floyd by name during his weekly Angelus prayer at the Vatican on Wednesday. According to John Allen, CNN’s senior Vatican analyst, it is a “relatively rare” move from the Pope.
The pontiff called Floyd’s death “tragic” and said that he is praying for him and “all those others who have lost their lives as a result of the sin of racism.”