Pope Francis has called the death of George Floyd at the hands of US police officers “tragic” and said he is praying for him and “all those others who have lost their lives as a result of the sin of racism.”
After an eighth night of protests across the United States, Francis addressed Floyd’s death during his weekly Angelus prayer at the Vatican on Wednesday.
“Dear brothers and sisters in the United States, I have witnessed with great concern the disturbing social unrest in your nation in these past days, following the tragic death of Mr. George Floyd,” Francis said.
“My friends, we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.
“At the same time, we have to recognize that the violence of recent nights is self-destructive and self-defeating. Nothing is gained by violence and so much is lost,” he urged.
CNN Senior Vatican Analyst John Allen said it is “relatively rare” for the Pope to mention a specific person by name. A Vatican spokesperson told CNN it was a “special appeal.”
Over the past few days, some Italian soccer teams have knelt in solidarity with US protestors over the killing of Floyd.
Marches against police brutality in solidarity with the unfolding situation in the US have taken place in other European countries, including the UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands.