Watch Cardinal Sean O'Malley's full comments in the above video.
Referring to George Floyd's death as a "murder" carried out "at the hands of four rogue police officers," Boston's Archbishop condemned racism as an "evil and moral cancer."
Cardinal Sean O'Malley spoke strongly in a letter Friday night, recognizing the Catholic Church's "historical complicity in slavery" and calling on the faith community to reject racism, and "to uphold and defend the truth that Black Lives Matter."
"As a nation we abolished slavery legally, but we have not dealt with its enduring legacy. If we reject slavery then we must reject and denounce the dehumanizing attitudes that foster discrimination, inequality and violence. Racism can be explicit, but it also can be unrecognized and unacknowledged. Yet, all of its manifestations are deadly and corrosive to civil society," O'Malley wrote. "Racism is a social and spiritual disease that kills people."
O'Malley goes on to recall being present the night of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination.
"Since then there have been important and meaningful advances of civil right and the election of an African American President. But to know that fifty years later four police officers would see themselves entitled to murder a black man with impunity makes clear how far we must yet go to achieve racial equality," the Archbishop wrote.
More on racism in America
In closing, he appealed to his fellow Catholics to demand change.
"The killing of George Floyd is painful evidence of what is and has been at stake for African Americans - the failure of society in too many ways to protect their lives and the lives of their children. As Catholics we are taught to nurture and protect life from its inception to its natural end and at every moment in-between. The demonstrations and protests of these days have been calls for justice and heart wrenching expressions of deep emotional pain from which we cannot turn away," O'Malley wrote. "They call us to affirm the inestimable value of every person's life. They call us to redouble our commitment to foster respect and justice for all people.They call us to uphold and defend the truth that Black Lives Matter."