During a time of division and upheaval, Pope Francis extolled the revered civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. for his message of peace in pursuit of harmony.
“In today’s world, which increasingly faces the challenges of social injustice, division and conflict that hinder the realization of the common good, Dr. King’s dream of harmony and equality for all people, attained through nonviolent and peaceful means, remains ever timely,” the Holy Father said on Monday, as reported by Catholic News Agency.
“Only by striving daily to put this vision into practice can we work together to create a community built upon justice and fraternal love,” he added.
The Holy Father went on to quote his 2020 encyclical “Fratelli tutti,” in which he said that “each one of us is called to be an artisan of peace by uniting and not dividing, by extinguishing hatred and not holding on to it, by opening paths of dialogue.”
Pope Francis’ comments come after he blessed the Atlanta Hawks 2020 Nike City Edition jersey “to honor our shared commitment to making positive change in social equality, economic empowerment and love.”
𝐓𝐰𝐨 𝐠𝐥𝐨𝐛𝐚𝐥 𝐢𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐬. 🙌
On Dr. King's birthday, @Pontifex blessed our 20-21 MLK Nike City Edition jersey to honor our shared commitment to making positive change in social equality, economic empowerment and love.
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) January 15, 2021
Martin Luther King’s daughter, Bernice King, told Vatican News last year that Pope Francis and her father shared an affinity for non-violence, adding that if he were alive today he “would be guided by his philosophy of nonviolence, which corresponded with his following of Jesus Christ.”
“He would, as he often did while he was living, share that we cannot cure violence with violence, which he said is a descending spiral. Of course, I believe he would compel us to embrace nonviolence, which is strategic, courageous, love-centered and organized,” she said.
Pope Francis previously expressed his appreciation of Dr. Martin Luther King during his 2017 address before Congress, hailing him as an embodiment of the “compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life. Dreams which lead to action, to participation, to commitment. Dreams which awaken what is deepest and truest in the life of a people.”
The Pope asserted that Dr. King’s dream “continues to inspire us all” and that America “continues to be, for many, a land of ‘dreams.’ Dreams which lead to action, to participation, to commitment. Dreams which awaken what is deepest and truest in the life of a people.”
Pope Francis condemned the violence that took place on Capitol Hill earlier this month, denouncing it as “a path against the community, against democracy, against the common good.”
“This should be condemned, this movement, regardless of the people,” the pope said. “Violence is always like this, no?”
Pope Francis added that it was necessary to understand the malcontented segments of society.
“We must understand it well, not to repeat it. To learn from history,” he said. “These noncompliant groups not well integrated in society will sooner or later [become violent].”