The death of George Floyd last week was senseless and brutal and cries out to heaven for justice.

The anger and unrest that has swept Los Angeles and the rest of the country since his death is a sad reminder that racism remains real. Millions of our brothers and sisters still today experience humiliation, indignity, and unequal opportunity only because of their race or the color of their skin.

It should not be this way in America. Racism is a blasphemy against God, who creates all men and women with equal dignity. It has no place in a civilized society and no place in a Christian heart.

When God looks at us, he sees beyond the color of our skin, or the countries where we come from, or the language that we speak. God sees only his children — beloved sons, beloved daughters.

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said that riots are the language of the unheard. My prayer is that we are all doing a lot of listening right now. This time, we should not fail to hear what people are saying in their pain.

It is an unhappy truth that we have tolerated racism for too long in America. These protests tell us that it is long past time for us to root out the racial injustice that still infects too many areas of American society.

But with Rev. King, we need to reject violence in protesting for the civil rights of our black neighbors. Nothing is gained by violence and so much is lost. The way forward for us is love, not hate and not violence.

Sadly, in many places legitimate protests have been exploited by persons with different values and agendas. But burning and looting communities, ruining the livelihoods of our neighbors, does not advance the cause of racial equality and human dignity. In fact, violence and property damage only makes things worse for the poor and minorities living in urban neighborhoods.

So, we need to keep our protests peaceful and keep our eyes on the prize of true and lasting change.

In these demonstrations, I have been encouraged to see so many young people expressing their desires to build a society that is more just and more fraternal, a society that expands opportunities for everyone, no matter what color their skin is or where they came from.

To me, this is very hopeful because it opens a way for the Church to speak about the truths of the Gospel — the dignity of the human person and God’s vision for the meaning of our lives.

This is an important responsibility for all of us in the Church right now. We need to be leaders in a new conversation about criminal justice reform and racial and economic inequality in our country.

Police brutality and unequal treatment of blacks by law enforcement are serious questions that our society needs to address.

But we need to remember the cruelty and violence that George Floyd suffered does not reflect on the majority of good men and women in law enforcement, who carry out their duties with honor and often live in the neighborhoods where they serve. I know here in Los Angeles, the police department has worked hard for many years now to improve how they do things and to really know the people in our communities.

With our society polarized and divided in so many ways, believers must be peacemakers as we move forward beyond the lockdown of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and these new protests over race.

The peace that Jesus brings is not the false peace of those who accept injustice out of fear or in order to avoid trouble or confrontation. For Jesus, building peace is hard work, it takes patience and the grace of God.

Practically, it means working to help people see another point of view, the other side of the argument. It means always working to build trust, promote understanding, and to encourage forgiveness and friendship.

We need to make sure that George Floyd did not die for no reason.

We should honor the sacrifice of his life by removing racism and hate from our hearts and renewing our commitment to fulfill our nation’s sacred promise — to be a beloved community of life, liberty, and equality for all.

Pray for me this week, and I will pray for you.

Let us pray together for the soul of George Floyd, and for his family. And let us pray for all those who are working to put an end to racial injustice in our society.

Let us entrust the troubles in our world and the troubles in our lives to Mary, who is the mother of God, the mother of the Church, and the mother of every one of us.

May she help us always to hear the voice of God in our lives and to follow the path of nonviolence and peacemaking in this challenging moment.