With closed eyes, masks covering their faces, white roses in the hand and handwritten signs inscribed “Black Life,” Seitz and 12 other priests of the El Paso diocese kneel in silence for 8 minutes 46 seconds on Monday.
They were praying silently for George Floyd, a black man who had died in Minneapolis police custody after an officer knelt on his neck in the same time period.
“Frankly, what I did and what I said is a very small way to participate in what many people are doing in their peaceful protests,” Seitz said.
Two days after the prayer of the clergy, Seitz had just finished celebrating Mass when he received a call on his cell phone from the Pope himself.
In Spanish, Francis Sitz told how grateful he was for his response to Floyd’s death.
“Through me, he expresses his unity with everyone who wants to go out and says this needs to be changed,” Seitz said. “This should never happen again. Where there is a lack of respect for humans, where there is a judgment based on the color of their skin, this must be removed.
“Whether in law enforcement, in business, in government, in any aspect of our society, this must change. Now we know very clearly that the Holy Father is performing this prayer.”
Francis described Floyd’s death as “tragic” and said he was praying for him and for “all those who lost their lives as a result of the sin of racism.”