In response to racism, the Catholic Church should be united in Christ, not take ideological sides, Cardinal Kevin Farrell said at a prayer service for George Floyd in Rome on Friday.

"When the Church makes the words of the Gospel resound, she wants to be faithful to Jesus, but she does not want to take one side against another," Farrell said during the service June 5.

"Jesus addressed his message of salvation and mercy to all, without excluding anyone," the U.S. cardinal said. "This simple fact should be a strong appeal to all of us, who instead often make distinctions based on social class, economic status, race, or political affiliation."

When Catholics distance themselves from those they consider on "the other side," they lose sight of Christ, he continued: "We end up identifying our Christian faith with the ideological vision of the side we have embraced."

Farrell spoke at a prayer vigil for George Floyd and his family at Rome's Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere June 5. Farrell is prefect of the Vatican's Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life.

At least 100 people attended the vigil, with more watching online.

The service was organized by the Community of Sant'Egidio, a lay Catholic association. In a June 4 press release, the community said participants would pray for "peaceful coexistence" in the U.S., which has been rocked by protests since Floyd was killed in police custody May 25.

The prayer service included hymns, the Our Father prayer, and a Gospel reading from John 14:23-27, in which Jesus tells his disciples: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid."

U.S. ambassador to the Holy See Callista Gingrich, and former U.S. representative Newt Gingrich were present at the service, as well as UK ambassador to the Holy See, Sally Axworthy.

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In his homily, Cardinal Farrell emphasized that an "us-versus-them" mentality conflicts with the words of St. Paul in Galatians: that there is "neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

"Returning to this purity of the Gospel becomes the best way of promoting the social good, avoiding partial and ideological visions," the cardinal stated.

Farrell urged Catholics to not close their eyes to racism and discrimination, which he said will always need to be fought, "because the human heart can always close itself in its selfishness and return to being polluted in sin."

Condemning violence and destruction, he also encouraged Christians to unite in building a culture of respect, saying "for us Christians, it is also a duty to insist that the means are always in harmony with the ends."

"Looting and violence lead to nothing good for the future," he added.

"For this reason, we Christians must not hide in fear. On the contrary: precisely in this delicate moment of social tension, we must be present to address the true and lasting good, the just desire for equality, for respect, and for justice that is present in the heart of every man and woman."