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

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