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Rev. King called 'artisan of peace' and 'true witness to power of Gospel'

IMAGE: CNS photo/Yoichi Okamoto, courtesy LBJ Library

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Societies today need "artisans of peace," like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., "who can be messengers and authentic witnesses of God the Father, who wills the good and the happiness of the human family," said the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Rev. King "was a messenger and true witness to the power of the Gospel lived in action through public life," said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston in a statement issued for the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day Jan. 21, the federal holiday marking his birthday.

The civil rights leader was born Jan. 15, 1929, and was fatally shot April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee.

"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," the cardinal said.

He added that the United States, "as a nation and as a society," faces "great challenges as well as tremendous opportunities ahead."

Cardinal DiNardo made reference to Pope Francis' annual message for the World Day of Peace Jan. 1. The pope said that in today's climate of mistrust, rejection and nationalism, the world urgently needs peacemakers and politicians who protect and lovingly serve others.

The cardinal also reminded U.S. Catholics that the body of bishops at their November general assembly approved a pastoral letter against racism, "Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love." The full text can be found at https://bit.ly/2bRijUK.

"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," Cardinal DiNardo said in his statement, released Jan. 18. "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."

In recalling how Rev. King "contended with policies and institutional barriers of his time, many which persist today," Cardinal DiNardo said, "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 goodwill 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."

The U.S. bishops "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," Cardinal DiNardo wrote.

In conclusion, he quoted Rev. King: "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."

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U.S. Bishops President Along with Chairman of Bishops’ Migration Committee Issue Statement Urging the President and Lawmakers to End the Shutdown

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, of Houston, Texas, President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, of Austin, Texas, Chairman of USCCB Committee on Migration, issued the following joint statement in response to the President’s January 19th remarks:

“We urge the President and lawmakers to end the shutdown. Political leaders must come together to ensure a bipartisan solution is reached which recognizes the economic struggle that many families are facing including those dependent on federal workers and those assisted by critical nutrition and housing programs.

We are encouraged by the President’s openness to providing legislative relief for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders and existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients. However, we understand that the President’s proposal would only provide temporary relief, leaving many in a continued vulnerable state. We believe that a permanent legislative solution for TPS holders and for all Dreamers is vital. Moreover, the proposal calls for the construction of a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, a proposal that our brother bishops on both sides of the U.S. border with Mexico oppose, and it suggests changes in current law that would make it more difficult for unaccompanied children and asylum seekers to access protection.

Throughout our parishes, there are many DACA youth and TPS holders, who have lived substantial parts of their lives in the U.S. contributing to this country. We listen and understand the fear and uncertainty they and their families face and the anguish that they are currently experiencing as their existing immigration protections hang in the balance and come to an end. Temporary relief will not ease those fears or quell that anxiety. It is for this reason that we have long advocated for comprehensive immigration reform; reform that will provide permanent solutions: including border security, protection for vulnerable unaccompanied children and asylum seekers, and a defined path to citizenship to enable our immigrant brothers and sisters to fully contribute to our society.

We look forward to reviewing the President’s proposal in detail and hope to work with the White House and Congress to advance legislation that shows compassion, keeps us safe, and protects the vulnerable.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, President Donald J. Trump, lawmakers, government shutdown, federal workers, Temporary Protected Statues (TPD), Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA), U.S. border, Mexico, safety, unaccompanied children, border security, defined path to citizenship, immigrants, White House, U.S. Congress

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