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Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio reflects on life of Martin Luther King Jr.: ‘Each of us … must work for justice and peace’

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The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Msgr. Charles Owen Rice march to the United Nations in New York in this April 1967 photo. As Rev. King taught, "we must confront the evils of racism and prejudice with the love of Christ," Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a Jan. 10, 2024, statement ahead of Martin Luther King Jr. Day Jan. 15. (OSV News photo/Pittsburgh Catholic)

WASHINGTON  — The Jan. 15 federal holiday honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a time to “pause and reflect” on his “indelible legacy” and “his rallying cry in the pursuit of justice and peace,” the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a statement.

As Rev. King taught, “we must confront the evils of racism and prejudice with the love of Christ,” Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services said, quoting the slain civil rights leader: “Deeply etched in the fiber of our religious tradition is the conviction that men are made in the image of God … the heirs of a legacy of dignity and worth. … This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all men.”

Martin Luther King Jr. Day, often abbreviated as MLK Day, is a federal holiday observed on the third Monday of January, which this year is Jan. 15, his birthday. Rev. King led the Civil Rights Movement until his assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, April 4, 1968. He was just 39 years old and would have turned 95 this year.

“Each of us can and must work for justice and peace, remembering Rev. King’s call to action: ‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'” Archbishop Broglio said in his statement released Jan. 10.

Holy Cross Father Theodore Hesburgh, then president of the University of Notre Dame, second from left, joins hands with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Rev. Edgar Chandler and Msgr. Robert J. Hagarty of Chicago, far right, in this 1964 file photo. As Rev. King taught, “we must confront the evils of racism and prejudice with the love of Christ,” Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a Jan. 10, 2024, statement ahead of Martin Luther King Jr. Day Jan. 15. (OSV News photo/courtesy University of Notre Dame)

As “a champion of civil rights,” Rev. King used the word of God “to effect change of hearts and minds,” the archbishop continued. “Given the issues of migration, antisemitism and racial and religious discrimination touching our communities, we are reminded that the work of bringing people together in mutual recognition and cooperation is never really done. There remain forces in the human condition that would tear asunder what has been accomplished.”

He called all to “remain vigilant to take advantage of positive signs existing in evangelization efforts and continued civic progress within human relations. These things help shape communities that manifest the affirmative outcomes arising from our varied races, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds.”

Archbishop Broglio added, “The Catholic Church is committed to this endeavor and willingly clasps hands and hearts with all others of like mind, faith and hope.”