U.S. Catholic bishops observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day


Martin Luther King Jr. addresses a crowd from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where he delivered his famous I Have a Dream speech during the Aug 28 1963 march on Washington DC. / null

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jan 16, 2023 / 08:00 am (CNA).

The president of the U.S. Catholic bishops is remembering Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. while observing the federal holiday on Monday, Jan. 16.

“Today, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have celebrated his 94th birthday, we reflect on his legacy of a nonviolent struggle against racial injustice,” Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese of the Military Services, USA, and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said in a statement.

“In the 60 years since Dr. King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech,” Broglio continued, “we recognize the progress made towards a just society that leaves no one on the margins, without failing to acknowledge that much work remains.”

He recalled the faith of King, a Baptist minister.

“Remembering that Dr. King was guided first by his faith also challenges us to personal conversion,” he wrote. “Unjust structures exist because personal sin persists.”

He stressed the USCCB’s priorities in light of King’s advocacy as a leader in the civil rights movement.

“Beyond remembering and quoting Dr. King today, we must act to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system, access to affordable housing and health care, and economic opportunities,” Broglio wrote. “The USCCB continues to support policy changes in these areas of society.”

On its website, the USCCB provides information about its Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, which works on the bishops’ domestic policy priorities; resources for ministry with Catholics of African descent; and information on its efforts to overcome racism.

The archbishop noted that the USCCB has advanced beatification and canonization causes of “six inspirational African American men and women”: Venerable Pierre Toussaint, Servant of God Mother Mary Lange, Venerable Henriette Delille, Venerable Augustus Tolton, Servant of God Julia Greeley, and Sister Thea Bowman.

“May their holy examples convert our hearts and our society, that we may achieve Dr. King’s dream of building a society where every person is recognized as a beloved son or daughter of God and treated with the justice and dignity that they deserve,” he said.

He included a quote from Bowman: “People keep saying, ‘Where’s the next Martin Luther King?’ We’re all called, I think. We’re called by our citizenship, by our membership in the human race. We’re all called to free ourselves and to free one another.”

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  1. A very special man. Articulate, compassionate, having excellent understanding and leadership abilities! God sends us men and women to show the way forward. We know that only our Lord and saviour is perfect, still King brought us humanity and a closer walk with the Lord.

    1 Peter 4:10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:

    2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

    Romans 12:11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.

    Romans 7:6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

    Acts 20:35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

    John 12:26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honour him.

    Blessings for his family.

  2. We read: “Beyond remembering and quoting Dr. King today, we must act to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system, access to affordable housing and health care, and economic opportunities,” [Archbishop] Broglio wrote. “The USCCB continues to support policy changes in these areas of society.”

    Thank you for this observance, and in full agreement…But also a caution about any “policy changes” for society as viewed from inside the Beltway.

    Recalling, here, that family income disparities are reportedly correlated much more with single parent families than with race. So, with an eye to “society” as distinct from government, maybe a “policy,” within the Church itself, of preaching the meaning and indissolubility of marriage? And sexual morality? All related to the spousal union between Christ and His Church, and the meaning of ongoing Eucharistic coherence/revival.

    Also recalling the global economic recession of 2008! Starting with the collapse of real-estate giant Washington Mutual, and then spreading nationally and globally (an economic pandemic!), and as bad apples, finally infecting bundled financial instruments (called “derivatives”). The meltdown attributed by the establishment to greedy banks, but the little-reported backstory was that banks were threatened with loss of their charters if they refused to issue insecure home loans—a homeownership inclusion (!) policy from good ol’ Uncle Sam (the guy with the $31 Trillion national debt).

    The Law of Unintended Consequences….The overall message here is to not be lured into assuming, possibly and ideologically, that the Administrative State is the go-to solution for deeper and systemic pathologies within “society.”

  3. It’s so disappointing to see that all CWR could publish on MLK Jr Day is this news piece and not essays or reflections about the man and his message for us today. It is obvious that CWR like many conservative white Catholics have embraced the hard right agenda in fighting anti-racism which aims to erase MLK Jr’s legacy and perpetuate racism to maintain white supremacy. Consider the anti-woke hysteria of recent times which CWR has editorially taken and promoted. This is indicative of the often misunderstood or forgotten understanding that to be a true Catholic is to be neither conservative nor progressive but to be radical. It is to be rooted (radix) in Jesus Christ whose Gospel is the reconciliation of all divisions that Paul declared to the Galatians (Gal 3:28). In today’s terms this message can be taken to mean that in Jesus Christ there is neither black nor white; Democrat nor Republican; rich nor poor; alien nor citizen; straight nor queer; inmate nor free; housed nor unhoused…. It’s best that more Catholics especially those of the conservative bent to cease the almost second-nature hate towards Pope Francis and read his 2020 encyclical letter, Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship.

    • “It is obvious that CWR like many conservative white Catholics have embraced the hard right agenda in fighting anti-racism which aims to erase MLK Jr’s legacy and perpetuate racism to maintain white supremacy.”

      You obviously don’t really know CWR or read it carefully. You certainly don’t me (for the record, I’ve been the Editor of CWR for a decade). I’ll have to share your comments with my children, who are black and Hispanic (they are adopted). I’m sure they’d like to learn more about how I’ve been helping CWR embrace and promote “white supremacy” and racism.

      I’ll also mention it to my good friend Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers, who has written about racism for CWR and who has a book coming out soon on the topic.

      Of course, your crude rhetorical approach gives you away. In short, you employ politically-loaded language to misrepresent what CWR actually publishes, while complaining about what CWR doesn’t publish (and also while overlooking this other CNA piece we posted on racism in the U.S., etc.) And never mind the numerous pieces CWR has posted over the years on Dr. King and similar figures.

      And your misrepresentation of St. Paul’s words and intent in Galatians is just as revealing. You like to smear and slander. How very Christ-like of you.

    • Dear Mr Brice:

      Catholics typically want to support the pope. It makes sense and yet, the incumbent steps outside of the bounds of church tradition, not to mention fidelity to Christ. It is not difficult to touch on recent examples. Should the faithful remain mute?

      Titus 2:15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

      2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

      1 Timothy 5:20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.

      These guidelines pertain to liberal and conservative followers of Christ. Where there is disharmony it needs to be addressed. If the cause of the problem happens to come from the top, the same rules apply.

      God bless you,

      Brian Young

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