U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Administrative Committee Statement on the Life and Work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

March 28, 2018 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON—The U.S.Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Administrative Committee has issued thefollowing statement today marking the 50th anniversary of theassassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Administrative Committee serves asthe Board of Trustees for the United States Conference of CatholicBishops.

The committee's full statementfollows:

"'No one has greaterlove than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends' (Jn 15:13). April 4thmarks 50 years since the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated inMemphis, Tennessee. On this day, as we reflect on his life and work, we need toask ourselves if we are doing all we can to build the culture of love, respectand peace to which the Gospel calls us. What are we being asked to do for the sake of our brother or sister whostill suffers under the weight of racism? Where could God use our efforts tohelp change the hearts of those who harbor racist thoughts or engage in racistactions?

This anniversarygives us an important moment to draw inspiration from the way in which Dr. Kingremained undeterred in his principle of non-violent resistance, even in theface of years of ridicule, threats and violence for the cause of justice. Dr.King came to Memphis to support underpaid and exploited African-Americansanitation workers, and arrived on a plane that was under a bomb threat. Hefelt God had called him to solidarity with his brothers and sisters in need. Inhis final speech on the night before he died, Dr. King openly referenced themany threats against him, and made clear that he would love a long life. Butmore important to him, he said, was his desire to simply do the will of God.

Our faith urges us tobe courageous, to risk something of ourselves, in defending the dignity of ourneighbor who is made in the image of God. Pope Francis reminds us often that we must never sit on the sidelines inthe face of great evil or extreme need, even when danger surrounds us. St. Paulproclaims that: 'We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed,but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but notdestroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that thelife of Jesus may also be manifested in our body' (2 Cor. 47-10). We can best honor Dr. Martin Luther King andpreserve his legacy by boldly asking God—today and always—to deepen our owncommitment to follow His will wherever it leads in the cause of promoting justice."

Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Administrative Committee,Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., assassination, anniversary, Memphis,African-Americans, racism, brothers, sisters, Jesus, St. Paul, Pope Francis, justice,solidarity.


Media Contact:
Judy Keane