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St. Francis Xavier Church Leads Corporate ‘Prayer for Racial Justice’ (Video)

Pastor Kenneth J. Boller leads a "prayer for racial justice" at St. Francis Xavier Church in New York City, August 30, 2020.
Pastor Kenneth J. Boller leads a "prayer for racial justice" at St. Francis Xavier Church in New York City, August 30, 2020. (Photo: YouTube screengrab)

Editor’s note: This article has been updated.

St. Francis Xavier Church in New York City, a Roman Catholic congregation, offered a “prayer for racial justice” on Sunday, August 30, 2020.

The call-and-response prayer, led by the pastor and about two minutes long, initially called on the congregation to “support racial justice, compassion, and equity in human relations.”

The Rev. Kenneth Boller went on to call white privilege “unfair and harmful to those who have it and to those who do not” and said that “white privilege and the culture of white supremacy must be dismantled.”

“Yes” was the requested response for the group prayer, and the affirmation could be heard among the congregation after Boller made each statement, according to a video recording of the service.

The “prayer for racial justice” occurred near the very end of the service, right before the parting benediction.

St. Francis Xavier Church also had images of Black Americans George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery on a mantel at or near the sanctuary.

floyd taylor arbery xavier church
Photos of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. (Photo: sfxavier.org/)

The deaths of Floyd and Taylor, killed in recent months by police officers in unique circumstances, ignited national protests across the nation and in cities around the world. Arbery was killed by White vigilantes while out jogging. Their cases have been used to highlight police violence and racism against Black Americans.

 

St. Francis Xavier Church states on its website: “As Community, we bear witness to our faith and celebrate the diversity of 2,436 parishioners who come from all walks of life and from all areas throughout Metropolitan New York.” The church was originally founded in 1851 by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits).

The “prayer for racial justice” begins at about 54:10 in the video.

Transcript of the “prayer for racial justice” is below:

Pastor Holler: I now invite you to stand and join us in the prayer for racial justice by responding ‘yes’ to each of the following statements.

Pastor Holler: Do you support racial justice, equity and compassion in real human human relations?

St Francis Xavier Congregation: Yes.

Pastor Holler: Do you affirm that white privilege is unfair and harmful to those who have it and to those who do not?

St Francis Xavier Congregation: Yes.

Pastor Holler: Do you affirm that white privilege and the culture of white supremacy must be dismantled wherever it is present?

St Francis Xavier Congregation: Yes.

Pastor Holler: Do you support racial equity, justice, and liberation for every person?

St Francis Xavier Congregation: Yes.

Pastor Holler: Do you affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person?

St Francis Xavier Congregation: Yes.

Pastor Holler: Therefore, from this day forward, will you strive to understand more deeply the injustice and suffering white privilege and white supremacy cause?

St Francis Xavier Congregation: Yes.

Pastor Holler: Will you commit to help transform our church culture to one that is actively engaged in seeking racial justice and equity for everyone?

St Francis Xavier Congregation: Yes.

Pastor Holler: Will you make a greater effort to treat all people with the same respect you expect to receive?

St Francis Xavier Congregation: Yes.

Pastor Holler: Will you commit to developing the courage to live your beliefs and values of racial justice and equality?

St Francis Xavier Congregation: Yes.

Pastor Holler: Will you strive to eliminate racial prejudice from your thoughts and actions so that you can better promote the racial justice efforts of our church?

St Francis Xavier Congregation: Yes.

Pastor Holler: Will you renew and honor this pledge daily knowing that our church and our community, our nation and our world will be better places because of our efforts?

St Francis Xavier Congregation: Yes.

Pastor Holler: Let us pray. Complete within us, oh God, we pray the healing work of Your mercy. And graciously perfect and sustain us so that in all things, we may please you through Christ our Lord. Amen.


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