POPE FRANCIS has condemned the killing of George Floyd and called for peace as civil unrest continues in the United States.
Speaking at the weekly General Audience yesterday, the head of the Catholic Church addressed a statement to his "dear brothers and sisters in the United States" as protests against racism and police brutality continued to erupt across the country.
"I have witnessed with great concern the disturbing social unrest in your nation in these past days, following the tragic death of Mr. George Floyd,” he said.
“My friends," he continued. "We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.”
While he condemned the racism which led to Mr Floyd's murder, the Pope also decried the violence which had erupted at some protests.
"At the same time, we have to recognise that the violence of recent nights is self-destructive and self-defeating," he stated.
"Nothing is gained by violence and so much is lost."
The church leader was quoting from a recent statement from Archbishop José Gomez, a Los Angeles-based bishop and president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, according to Vatican News.
Pope Francis went on to lead a prayer with the Church in Saint Paul and Minneapolis, "and in the entire United States, in praying for the repose of the soul of George Floyd, and of all those others who have lost their lives as a result of the sin of racism".
"Let us pray for the consolation of their grieving families and friends and let us implore the national reconciliation and peace for which we yearn."
The prayer for peace, which was joined in by all believers watching the weekly General Audience, is as follows:
"May Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America, intercede for all those who work for peace and justice in your land and throughout the world."
Following over a week of protests in which demonstrators have clashed with police, the Hennepin County Sheriff announced that Derek Chauvin's charge has been elevated to second-degree murder.
The three other policemen present for Mr Floyd's killing have been arrested and charged with aiding and abetting a murder.