With their eyes closed, masks covering their faces, white roses in their hands and handwriting that read “Black Lives Matter,” Seitz and 12 other priests from El Paso diocese knelt in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds on Monday.
They pray silently for George Floyd, a black man who died in a Minneapolis police custody after an officer knelt on his neck for the same time.
“To be honest, what I do and what I say is only a very small way to take part in what many people do in their peaceful protests,” Seitz said.
Two days after the priest’s prayer, Seitz had just finished celebrating Mass when he got his cellphone from the Pope himself.
In Spanish, Francis tells Seitz how grateful he is for Seitz’s response to Floyd’s death.
“Through me, he expressed his unity with all those who were willing to step outside and said this needed to be changed,” Seitz said. “This should never happen again. Wherever there is a lack of respect for humans, where there is an assessment based on the color of their skin, this must be revoked.
“Whether it is in law enforcement, in business, in government, in every aspect of our society, this must change. And now we know very clearly that the Holy Father made this his prayer.”
Francis called Floyd’s death “tragic” and said he prayed for him and “all others who have lost their lives as a result of the sin of racism.”