Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 29, 2020 / 19:00 pm
The love of Christ can overcome the sin of racism, the pastor of a historic Minnesota African-American parish said Friday, at a prayer service in the aftermath of the protests and riots in St. Paul and Minneapolis following the death of George Floyd in police custody.
“Racism,” said Fr. Erich Rutten said, “is a very deep sin in our souls. In not only our personal souls, but in the soul of our country.”
“To get past it, we need the love of Christ,” he said. “We need to get out of our comfort zones and encounter one another. Pope Francis says so often that we need to truly encounter one another.”
Rutten, pastor of St. Peter Claver Church, led the service on Friday evening, hours after buildings in the parish neighborhood were set ablaze. The prayer service was also attended by Archbishop Bernard Hebda and auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens of St. Paul-Minneapolis.
Because of coronavirus social distancing measures, parishioners attended the prayer service via a Facebook livestream.
St. Peter Claver Church was founded in 1888 as the first African-American Roman Catholic parish in Minnesota.
Rutten read the Gospel passage in which Jesus repeatedly asks Peter if he loves Him and then instructs Peter to feed His sheep.