Bishop Gregory Parkes Prays For Peace, Unity, And End To Racism
Bishop Gregory Parkes of the Diocese of St. Petersburg led a prayer service on Sunday, decrying racism and praying for peace, both in the Tampa Bay region and across the world.
Parkes called racism a sin and said, "it has plagued our country for far too long."
The leader of 80 parishes and missions and more than 400,000 Catholics in Citrus, Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties spoke to a crowd gathered inside and outside of the Cathedral of St. Jude in St. Petersburg and those watching online. Attendees seen on video wore masks and practiced social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Parkes echoed some of the final words of George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis Police custody on Memorial Day. Floyd cried out, "I can't breathe."
"If you are someone who has struggled for breath because of the oppression of racism, I want you to know that I see you, I hear you and I pray for you," said Parkes. "This is not what God had intended for his beloved children."
"We pray for conversion of minds and hearts where racist thoughts and hatred are harbored and continue to fester," the bishop added.
He encouraged peaceful protests against the death of Floyd and others at the hands of police. He also said the actions of those would use Floyd's death as an excuse to steal, and cause chaos or violence should be condemned.
The service included an outdoor demonstration with prayer at the corner of 5th Ave. North and Tyrone Blvd.