Come together to work for racial justice, archbishop says

Dozens of Catholics gathered at the Cathedral of the Assumption Aug. 15 in prayer prior to a walk for racial justice organized by Black Catholics for Justice, a group of young Catholics from local parishes. Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, who offered a prayer for the participants, noted, “We are a church community that worships together, we believe together and so we need to also walk together.” (Record File Photo by Jessica Able)

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz called for people to join together to work for racial justice Sept. 23, hours after a grand jury and the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office announced their findings in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor by Louisville Metro Police.

“I again join with citizens throughout our community and the nation in mourning the tragic death of Breonna Taylor,” the archbishop wrote in a leadership briefing. “Whatever our reaction to decisions by the Grand Jury and the Attorney General’s Office, we must now come together to work for racial justice.”

“There is no question that our nation’s original sin of racism continues to destroy and harm the lives of persons of color and that racism extends through so many systems of our society … educational, economic, religious, housing, criminal justice, voting, and employment,” he wrote.

Archbishop Kurtz said the Catholic Church “stands ready to work with civic, community, educational, business and non-profit partners to address these issues.”

 He also urged people to reject violence as a response. 

“Let us all join in prayers for Breonna Taylor’s family and friends and for justice, peace, and healing in our community,” he added.

Breonna Taylor was shot to death at home in the early morning hours of March 13 after Louisville Metro Police entered her apartment to execute a search warrant. Her boyfriend fired one shot, thinking the police were intruders, he has said, and struck an officer in the leg. Three officers returned fire, killing Taylor.

Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced Sept. 23 that after his office’s investigations concluded, a grand jury indicted LMPD Det. Brett Hankison on charges of wanton endangerment related to shots he fired into the apartment next door to Taylor’s. No charges were filed in connection to the shooting of Taylor. 

For the last 120 days, largely peaceful protesters demanding “justice for Breonna” have kept vigil at Jefferson Square Park in downtown Louisville, where a makeshift memorial has been established in Taylor’s memory. Her death also sparked protests around the world related to policing standards. And it has led to a broader movement nationwide for racial justice. 

After the grand jury’s decision was announced Wednesday, protesters moved around downtown Louisville and the Highlands and were met at different points by law enforcement. While most of the afternoon and evening protests were peaceful, at about 8:30 p.m. a gunman shot at police near South Brook Street and Broadway, injuring two Louisville Metro Police Officers who sustained non-life-threatening injuries, according to local media reports. A suspect in the shooting was in custody soon after.

Archbishop Kurtz said he offered his prayers for the officers, Major Aubrey Gregory and officer Robinson Desroches, on Sept. 24.

“I am glad to hear that Chief Schroeder indicated that both will recover. As I pray for these two men and their families, I thank all first responders who are working so hard to keep our community safe,” said Archbishop Kurtz in a statement.

 “As our community deals with the challenges of the sin of racism and affirms the first amendment rights of those who protest, I again join with people of faith and goodwill to plead for peace and the rejection of violence,” he said. “I am reminded of a statement that Pope Francis shared in his weekly audience in early June: ‘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 … let us implore the national reconciliation and peace for which we yearn.’ ”

Marnie McAllister
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Marnie McAllister
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