The Bishop of El Paso knelt in prayer for George Floyd. Two days later Pope Francis called

With their eyes closed, masks covering their faces, white roses in their hands and handwritten inscriptions that read “Black Life Matter”, Seitz and 12 other priests from the Diocese of El Paso knelt in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds on Monday.

They silently begged George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis police custody after an officer knelt on his neck for so long.

“Honestly, what I did and what I said was just a very small way to participate in what many are doing in their peaceful protests,” Seitz said.

Two days after the priesthood prayer, Seitz had just finished celebrating Mass when he received a call from the pope himself on his cell phone.

In Spanish, Francis told Seitz how grateful he was for Seitz’s response to Floyd’s death.

“Through me, he expresses his unity with everyone who is ready to step forward and say that this must change,” Seitz said. “This should never happen again. Where there is a lack of respect for people, where judgment is based on the color of their skin, it must be eradicated.

“Whether it’s law enforcement, business, government, any aspect of our society, that has to change. And now we know very clearly that the Holy Father is doing this prayer of his.”

During Pope Francis ’weekly prayer at the Vatican on Wednesday, he addressed Floyd by name in a“ relatively rare ”move for the pope, said John Allen, a CNN senior Vatican analyst.

Francis called Floyd’s death “tragic” and said he prayed for him and “all those others who lost their lives as a result of the sin of racism.”

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