Communities should strive to live the words of Martin Luther King Jr., to move “from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a message for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which falls on Jan. 19.
“Our communities will only reflect this dignity if we first turn to prayer to guide our actions toward ending years of isolation, disregard and conflict between neighbors,” said Archbishop Kurtz. “That which seems impossible can only be brought about through God and his powerful intervention in our hearts.”
The full text of Archbishop Kurtz’s message follows:
As our nation celebrates the life and legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today, I am reminded of the timeless plea found in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail that we move “from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.” I am grateful for Dr. King’s words and actions and those of so many who worked for justice and helped to advance our country’s recognition of the dignity and equality of each person.
Continuing tensions and violence in our communities remind us that although significant progress has been made in erasing the stain of racism and the cycle of related violence, we still have much work to do. As we consider the gains of the past and the challenges before us, I urge each of us to pray for healing and peace as we work for ever greater communion. Every human life has profound dignity, rooted in our creation in the image of God. We are one family. Our communities will only reflect this dignity if we first turn to prayer to guide our actions toward ending years of isolation, disregard and conflict between neighbors. That which seems impossible can only be brought about through God and his powerful intervention in our hearts.
Dr. King reminded us of the power of prayer and action. I invite everyone, this day and every day, to implore God to make us his instruments in creating a more just society.
Lord, God of Abraham, God of the Prophets, God of Love, you created us and you call us to live as brothers and sisters Give us the strength daily to be instruments of peace; enable us to see everyone who crosses our path as our brother or sister. Make us sensitive to the plea of [those] who entreat us to turn our weapons of war into implements of peace, our trepidation into confident trust, and our quarreling into forgiveness.
Keep alive within us the flame of hope, so that with patience and perseverance we may opt for dialogue and reconciliation. In this way may peace triumph at last, and may the words “division”, “hatred” and “war” be banished from the heart of every man and woman. Lord, defuse the violence of our tongues and our hands. Renew our hearts and minds, so that the word which always brings us together will be “brother”, and our way of life will always be that of. . . Peace. . .! Amen.
• Pope Francis, excerpt from a prayer for peace for the Middle East, June 8, 2014