Cardinal Kevin Farrell, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, said Friday that “tolerance, peaceful coexistence, equal opportunities for prosperity and well-being for all” are ideals inscribed in the DNA of the United States of America. Christians, he said, have a duty to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel of love and inclusion, and to put the nation back on track.

Cardinal Farrell’s words came as he presided over a prayer service in the Church of Santa Maria in Trastevere organized by the Rome-based Community of Sant’Egidio, a lay Catholic association with global reach.

The Community is deeply involved in justice and peace issues, and organized the liturgy to coincide with a march in Rome on Friday being held to show solidarity with protesters in the United States.

The prayer vigil came two days after Pope Francis said he is praying for George Floyd and all Americans, and warned against turning a blind eye to racism.

“These days, the whole world is watching with apprehension the wave of protests that is going through many cities in the USA following the unjust death of George Floyd,” the Cardinal said. He noted that “especially for us American citizens, it is a source of great sadness to see how discrimination, prejudice and hatred on racial grounds still persist in our country.”

He reflected on how, after long years of fighting for civil rights and racial equality, it is taken for granted that certain injustices and violence of the past can never happen again.

“But we see with sorrow that this is not the case,” he added, saying that “peaceful coexistence and mutual acceptance are precious goods that must always be promoted.”

This, Farrell said, is precisely the area in which Christians can make a precious contribution.

“We Christians must always proclaim and bear witness with our lives to the newness that the Gospel of Christ has brought to the earth,” he said. The peace that Jesus gives us as the most beautiful fruit of his death and resurrection, he said, “cannot remain a theory, it must have concrete consequences in life.”

“If the peace of Christ is truly present in the hearts of believers, there can be no more room for rivalry, for the denial of the dignity of others and for the oppression of others,” the Cardinal said.

Reflecting on the fact that the United States, since its birth, “has been multicultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious,” he said “the foundations on which it was built were the equality of all men, the inalienable rights to life and freedom granted by the Creator himself to all men, tolerance, peaceful coexistence, equal opportunities for prosperity and well-being for all.”