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Pope Francis holds meeting with NBA players to discuss social justice

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'You're champions ... giving that good example of teamwork but always remaining humble ... and preserving your own humanity...'

Five NBA players sat down with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Monday, November 23, to have an open discussion about their individual efforts, and the NBA's efforts, to combat social and economic injustice in the country.

Photo: Vatican Media

Photo: Vatican Media

Highlights

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Pope Francis holds a special place in his heart for fighting racial injustice. He wrote a great deal about it in his recent encyclical "Fratelli tutti," where he compared racism to a virus that "quickly mutates and, instead of disappearing, goes into hiding, and lurks in waiting."

During his meeting with NBA players, Kyle Korver, Sterling Brown (Milwaukee Bucks), Jonathan Isaac (Orlando Magic), Anthony Tolliver (Memphis Grizzlies), and Marco Belinelli (San Antonio Spurs), the Pope commended their examples of teamwork. 

"You're champions ... giving that good example of teamwork but always remaining humble ... and preserving your own humanity," he said, according to AP.

After the tragic death of George Floyd in May, several NBA players set out to raise awareness of police brutality affecting black communities and the greater issue of inequality in the U.S.

In addition, six different NBA teams' players called off postseason games in protest of another occurrence of police brutality, when Jacob Black was shot in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

"It was raw and emotional for our team," expressed Brown to the Pope. 

Wanting to learn more about how American athletes were advocating for social justice. According to ESPN, the NBA players' union scheduled an overnight flight Sunday.

The Holy Father has also spoken out about racism in the United States, previously during a livestreamed audience in June. He acknowledged George Floyd and all those who have lost their lives "because of the sin of racism." 

Pope Francis also called Archbishop Jose Gomez, president of the U.S. bishops conference, the same day of his June audience to thank the American bishops for the tone they set in response to the protests across the country.

"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. At the same time, we have to recognize that the violence of recent nights is self-destructive and self-defeating. Nothing is gained by violence and so much is lost," Pope Francis stated in June.

"Let us pray for the comfort of families and friends who are heartbroken, and pray for national reconciliation and the peace we yearn for."

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