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Living Our Faith: ‘Populorum Progressio’

April 11th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized Tags:

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On March 26, 1967, Blessed Paul VI promulgated his social encyclical “Populorum Progressio” (“The Progress of Peoples”).

U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson is pictured in this 1964 photo with a group of civil rights leaders who include the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Clarence Mitchell and Patricia Roberts Harris. As our nation saw the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the emergence of the War on Poverty, the Catholic Church saw the advent of a landmark expression of its own social doctrine when Blessed Paul VI promulgated "Populorum Progressio," "The Progress of Peoples," in 1967. (CNS photo/Yoichi Okamoto, courtesy LBJ Library)

U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson is pictured in this 1964 photo with a group of civil rights leaders who include the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Clarence Mitchell and Patricia Roberts Harris. As our nation saw the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the emergence of the War on Poverty, the Catholic Church saw the advent of a landmark expression of its own social doctrine when Blessed Paul VI promulgated “Populorum Progressio,” “The Progress of Peoples,” in 1967. (CNS photo/Yoichi Okamoto, courtesy LBJ Library)

Fifty years later, the words of Blessed Paul may be more pertinent than ever.

Debates continue over nationalism, borders, globalization and isolation, divisions between rich and poor, and racial issues.

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U.S. bishop remembers Martin Luther King at Vatican meeting

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The work of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to promote the “integral human development” of all peoples is a work that must continue today in the world and in the Catholic Church, Bishop Edward K. Braxton of Belleville, Illinois, told participants at a Vatican conference.

Bishop Edward K. Braxton of Belleville, Illinois. (CNS file/c Georgetown University)

Bishop Edward K. Braxton of Belleville, Illinois. (CNS file/c Georgetown University)

Bishop Braxton moderated a panel discussion April 4 at the conference marking the 50th anniversary of Blessed Paul VI’s encyclical on development, “Populorum Progressio.”

Closing the afternoon panel, the bishop reminded participants that it was the 49th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. King, “who was only 39 years old when he was cruelly slain in the midst of trying to bring about a more integral human development for all people in the United States, especially people of color.”

“The racial divide in the United States and, sadly, in the Catholic Church in the United States is not something of the past. It is very much something of the present,” the bishop said.

Bishop Braxton told conference participants that as one of only six active African-American diocesan bishops in the United States and the only one present at the Vatican conference, he wanted to “call attention to the significance of this day,” the anniversary of Rev. King’s slaying in 1968.

The bishop described Rev. King as “the conscience of the United States, the nonviolent prophet challenging the sin and the heresy of racism and apartheid-like segregation and prejudice in the United States.”

Many people in Europe, he said, seem to think the election of Barack Obama to two terms as U.S. president signaled “an end to the racial divide in the United States. However, the racial divide has not been bridged fully; we do not live in a post-racial society in the United States or in the Catholic Church.”

Integral human development and progress in ensuring all people enjoy the benefits of well-being are still needed for members of minority communities in the United States, just as in most countries around the globe, he said.

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream of the full, integral human development of all people, especially, in the United States for people of color,” the bishop said. “He died with that dream deferred.”

All Catholics everywhere, he said, need to follow “these simple imperatives: listen, learn, think, pray and act.”

“Christ needs us all,” Bishop Braxton said. “He needs our eyes to continue to see. He needs our ears to continue to hear. He needs our mouths to continue to speak. He needs our hands to continue to work. He needs our feet to continue to walk. He needs our bodies to continue to serve. And he needs our hearts to continue to love.”

 

Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden.

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