Bishop urges people to follow Christ’s path of peace after riots

Graffiti is shown on a utility box at the corner of Orange Grove Road and Sam Rittenburg Boulevard in Charleston May 31. Riots in Charleston and Columbia took place May 30 protesting the recent death of George Floyd, a man who died in the custody of Minnesota police, sparking nationwide protests. (Miscellany photo/Deirdre C. Mays)

CHARLESTON—After a night of riots and looting in Charleston and Columbia, Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone and civic officials released statements asking for peace to prevail.

The riots spun off protests and rallies for justice after the death of George Floyd of Minnesota, a man who died while in the city’s police custody. 

Several days of protest in cities across the nation made their way to South Carolina May 30. 

Bishop Guglielmone urged people to respond with prayer and restraint.

“The Catholic Church of South Carolina grieves with our community about the events leading up to these riots taking place around our state and our country. We pray for those who have been harmed and pray that the anger and frustration be lessened with time and reflection,” the May 31 statement said. 

“We must step back and learn from history that these vengeful mobs do nothing but elicit a flash of negative attention resulting in resentful distraction from a cause that requires systemic change,” the bishop continued.

“To our family in Christ, we cannot minimize the fact that there is blatant racism and injustice in our country, and change must come. In order to make that change, however, we must unite in our efforts. There is no other way, but peace,” he said.

“Peace is an ethic for people of all faiths. We know that over 2,000 years ago the authors of the Bible recorded the accounts of a man who changed the world. Jesus Christ did not do so, however, by commanding armies, and engaging in warfare. He taught his followers about love and mercy; that we must love God first and we must love our neighbors as ourselves,” Bishop Guglielmone said.

The bishop stressed that Christians are called to follow those teachings today and to sacrifice the ways that impede love and mercy. 

“We must sacrifice our prejudices, ignorance, hostility, apathy, and all that halts us from truly loving our neighbors as ourselves,” Bishop Guglielmone said.

The bishop also asked people to refrain from bickering on social media and step away from petty arguments. 

“Opinions and misinformation are not the answer to our society’s problems. Prayer is. Education is. Empathy is,” he continued.

He also urged youths to take up the mantle of peace and justice.

“Young people, I call on you to take the lead and show us how to effect change. Take Our Lord’s message of mercy out into the streets and show people how to welcome it into their hearts and homes. Show the world what it is to change the world peacefully through reason and open communication, by linking arms and teaching us to love God first,” he said.

Bishop Guglielmone called all people to pray for George Floyd and his family, and for all victims of racism, those who are suffering because of the riots, and for peace.

Charleston County was placed under curfew in the aftermath of the unrest. Columbia city officials also announced a state of emergency and a curfew.

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