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Rome: US Vatican cardinal prays for George Floyd

Vatican cardinal leads Rome prayer service in solidarity with Floyd protests.

The highest-ranking US cardinal at the Vatican, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, has deplored the “unjust” killing of George Floyd, praying for Floyd and his family as well as all victims of racism and injustice.

Cardinal Farrell, who is the prefect of the Vatican's office for Laity, Family and Life, presided over a prayer service in Rome on 5 June, held in honour of Floyd and other victims of racism, and calling for peaceful coexistence in the US.

The service was organised by the S. Egidio Community, a Trastevere-based Catholic charity which is deeply involved in justice and peace issues, and is close to Pope Francis.

Among the diplomats present was the US ambassador to the Holy See, Callista Gingrich, and her husband Newt, the former US house speaker.

Cardinal Farrell, an Irish-born naturalised US citizen, said the protests that have broken out after Floyd’s death make it clear that the civil rights movement of the 1960s has failed to resolve all of America’s race problems.

"Especially for us American citizens" - the cardinal said - "it is a source of great sadness to see how discrimination, prejudice and hatred on racial grounds still persist in our country.”

Speaking earlier in the day to The Associated Press, Farrell underlined the Christian principles on which the US nation was founded: equal protections under the law, the right to life, liberty and the “equal possibility of prosperity and well-being for all.”

Farrell noted that African Americans "had been excluded almost as an entire group" from the opportunities that the US constitution and its principles purport to offer all US citizens, reports AP.

Floyd, an African-American, was killed on 25 May by a white Minneapolis police officer who pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes, while other police officers watched.

Farrell told AP that Floyd's brutal killing after his arrest was "so unreal it seemed like a movie," saying: “They are trained individuals who knew that in that position, that person was not going to survive.”

Farrell recalled the words of Pope Francis during his 3 June papal audience when he said: "We cannot tolerate or close our eyes to any kind of racism or exclusion and claim to defend the sacredness of every human life."

The prayer service at S. Egidio comes ahead of a Black Lives Matter demonstration, to protest "the murder of George Floyd and the systemic racism that keeps African Americans from living fully free lives in America."

The protest, which was originally scheduled to take place in Piazza SS. Apostoli, has been moved to the larger Piazza del Popolo due to the increasing numbers of people expected to attend.

The event will take place on Sunday 7 June at 11.00.

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