Catholic bishops: US still ‘painfully’ far from Martin Luther King’s dream

Washington D.C., Jan 20, 2020 / 03:37 am (CNA).- The example of Martin Luther King, Jr., is still sorely needed in the United States, given continued injustices, racism and discrimination against minorities, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a message for MLK Day.

“As our nation prepares to commemorate the life and witness of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., we are grateful for his courageous stand in solidarity with all who suffer injustice and his witness of love and nonviolence in the struggle for social change,” Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said Jan. 16.

“But we are once again painfully aware that we are still far off from his dream for America, the ‘beloved community’ for which he gave his life.”

King is remembered as an African-American Baptist minister and the most visible leader of the civil rights movement, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He was the founding president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He was assassinated in 1968 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, at age 39.

The United States has celebrated a federal holiday in his memory since 1983. This year the holiday falls on Jan. 20.

Archbishop Gomez, writing on behalf of the U.S. bishops, warned of continuing “disturbing outbreaks of racism and prejudice” against minority groups in the U.S. today.

“Racism is a sin that denies the truth about God and his creation, and it is a scandal that disfigures the beauty of America’s founding vision,” he said.

“Too many hearts and minds are clouded by racist presumptions of privilege and too many injustices in our society are still rooted in racism and discrimination,” the archbishop continued.

“Too many young African American men are still being killed in our streets or spending their best years behind bars. Many minority neighborhoods in this country are still what they were in Rev. King’s time, what he called ‘lonely islands of poverty.’ Let us recommit ourselves to ensuring opportunity reaches every community,” he said.

The archbishop spoke in the wake of deadly racially motivated violence.

A mass shooting at an El Paso WalMart, not far from the U.S. border with Mexico, killed 22 people and injured 24 others in August 2019. Authorities believe the gunman authored an anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic manifesto that depicted immigrants as invaders. The gunman apparently took inspiration from a deadly attack on a New Zealand mosque.

In October 2018 a shooter killed 11 people at a synagogue in Philadelphia. In April 2019, a shooting at a synagogue in Poway, California left one dead and several wounded, including the congregation’s rabbi.

“There has been a rise of anti-Semitic attacks and also ugly displays of white nationalism, nativism, and violence targeting Hispanics and other immigrants. Such bigotry is not worthy of a great nation,” Gomez said. “As Catholics and as Americans, we must reject every form of racism and anti-Semitism.”

He cited the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ 2018 pastoral letter on racism, “Open Wide Your Hearts.”

“What is needed, and what we are calling for, is a genuine conversion of heart, a conversion that will compel change and the reform of our institutions and society,” the letter said.


If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!

Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.


  1. We are actually getting very close to the socialistic, anti-white, multicultural utopia King was working to bring about. And the USCCB continues to do its part to hasten the day. It is pretty disappointing when some outlets run by people who surely know better refuse to acknowledge the deeply problematic aspects of King and his “dream.” It can be done without denying that the injustices of the era existed or that the man had his strong points.

    • Not King but his followers.
      It is inevitable fate of Christian culture planted inside entirely gnostic civilization. Fate silently ignored with bishops, the New York Times, artists and writers, and so on.

        • King was not communist. That’s all.
          You have to learn to distinguish. For example you can compare King with peoples like Noam Chomsky or Bill Clinton and you will see.

          • If his FBI files are unsealed in a few years you will learn the truth as to whether he himself was a Communist. The point was that the civil Rights movement was aided by Communist agitation.

          • SOL,
            FBI files are irrelevant. In fact the aforementioned trio just demonstrates this irrelevancy: proponent of Christian culture was killed while proponents of idealitic gnosis has achieved considerable careers. Despite tons of “files”.

          • SOL,
            What “inconvenient historical facts” you mean? Read through King’s speech to the sanitation workers and compare it with Chomsky’s mathematized linguistic or Bill Clinton’s Vietnamese “people”. There are no other secret or unrecognisable “facts”.

  2. Within 50 years we went from Bull Connor to Barack Obama – the last hole on the white liberal guilt punch card was punched on Tuesday November 4, 2008.

    We white folks do NOT have the monopoly on racism – we never really did and we CERTAINLY don’t now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

All comments posted at Catholic World Report are moderated. While vigorous debate is welcome and encouraged, please note that in the interest of maintaining a civilized and helpful level of discussion, comments containing obscene language or personal attacks—or those that are deemed by the editors to be needlessly combative or inflammatory—will not be published. Thank you.