The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, has issued the following statement in relation to the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 21.
Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:
“Today more than ever, our societies need ‘artisans of peace’ who can be messengers and authentic witnesses of God the Father, who wills the good and the happiness of the human family.”
Pope Francis’ words, given in his 2019 World Day of Peace address, remind us how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was such an artisan of peace. Dr. King was a messenger and true witness to the power of the gospel lived in action through public life. This year, as we again mark the anniversary of his life, and reflect upon the 51st anniversary of his death, we are thankful for the path forged by Dr. King and the countless others who worked tirelessly and suffered greatly in the fight for racial equality and justice.
As a nation and as a society, we face great challenges as well as tremendous opportunities ahead.
This past November, the entire body of Catholic bishops approved Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love— A Pastoral Letter Against Racism. The letter’s goal is to again name and call attention to a great affliction and evil that persists in this nation and to offer a hope-filled Christian response to this perennial sickness. Racism is a national wound from which we continually struggle to heal. As we wrote in the pastoral letter, “Racism can only end if we contend with the policies and institutional barriers that perpetuate and preserve the inequality—economic and social—that we still see all around us.”
Today, remembering how Dr. King contended with policies and institutional barriers of his time, many which persist today, we renew our pledge to fight for the end of racism in the Church and in the United States. We pledge our commitment to build a culture of life, where all people are valued for their intrinsic dignity as daughters and sons of God. We encourage Catholics and all people of good will to study the pastoral letter and to study and reflect upon Dr. King’s witness against the destructive effects of racism, poverty, and continuous war.
We call on everyone to embrace our ongoing need for healing in all areas of our lives where we are wounded, but particularly where our hearts are not truly open to the idea and the truth that we are all made in the image and likeness of God. As Dr. King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
USCCB Pastoral Letter on racism and other information about the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism can be found at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/racism/