The Knights of Columbus have announced a forthcoming novena for an end to racism, as Catholic fraternal organizations urge prayer and justice amid burgeoning civic unrest that began with the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed while being arrested May 25.

“George Floyd was a man, a human, a being. Not a stat. Not just another one. Not to be forgotten,” the Knights of Peter Claver, a traditionally black Catholic fraternal organization, said in a statement released last week.

“The Knights of Peter Claver condemns the senseless death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis policemen. There is no explanation to justify the actions taken by the police that ultimately led to Mr. Floyd’s demise. We pray that God will grant his family peace and that the Minneapolis community finds healing during this difficult period,”

The group called for “true respect of the Dignity of Black Lives. These statements should not have to be made. These demands should not have to be made. These lives should not be lost.”

“We call on all who are sworn 'to protect and to serve' - to carry out that very motto. We call on all leaders elected to serve - to listen, to act, to legislate. We call on all of God’s children created to love – to do just that – love.”

“The anger, emotions, and outrage must be followed by effective solutions that do more than just penalize murderous actions, but eliminate future ones. The ink has run dry on writing statements, and it is now time to write laws, to write policies, to write sentences,” the group said.

“George Floyd – let your name be remembered as the murder that sparked effective change.”

The Knights of Peter Claver was founded in 1909 as a fraternal organization of black Catholics. The group has more than 18,000 members and affiliates worldwide.

For its part, The Knights of Columbus on Thursday announced a novena for unity and peace.

“We ask all people to come together in solidarity to forge a path forward — free of discrimination and hate — for our nation,” Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said in a June 4 statement.

“The Knights join Pope Francis in urging all to express their anger and cries for justice in nonviolent ways to end the sin of racism.”

The Knights of Columbus novena will begin June 7.

“For the two million members of the Knights of Columbus and their families, this understanding starts with prayer,” Anderson said, adding that the novena will ask God “to bring together in your
love all whom hatred and racism have separated.”

“We must show love for one another, praying that all people come to understand that injustice to any black person is injustice to all persons and that all of us, regardless of our differences, are children of God made in his image and likeness,” Anderson said.

The Knights of Columbus, founded in 1882 by Venerable Father Michael McGivney, said in its release it has always been open to members of all races and nationalities, and that “the Knights was the only organization to run integrated facilities in World War I, and the organization commissioned a black history by W.E.B. Dubois in the 1920s while also openly opposing the racial and religious intolerance of the Ku Klux Klan.”

The Knights of Columbus also sponsored and funded the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, a committee for which Anderson serves as a consultant.