Wed | Mar 3, 2021

Pope: MLK’s message of non-violent protest timely now

Published:Tuesday | January 19, 2021 | 12:09 AM
In this March 12, 2018 file photo, youngest child of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, Bernice King, is welcomed by Pope Francis on the occasion of their private audience at the Vatican.
In this March 12, 2018 file photo, youngest child of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, Bernice King, is welcomed by Pope Francis on the occasion of their private audience at the Vatican.

ROME (AP):

Pope Francis is honouring civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King Jr. on the commemoration of his birthday, saying his message of equality through peaceful means remains more timely than ever.

Francis sent a message of prayer Monday to King’s daughter, the Rev Bernice King, with whom the pontiff met in 2018. He called for unity, not division, and extinguishing hatred and “not holding onto it”.

“In today’s world, which increasingly faces the challenges of social injustice, division and conflict that hinder the realisation of the common good, Dr King’s dream of harmony and equality for all people, attained through non-violent and peaceful means, remains ever timely,” Francis wrote.

The Vatican has long spoken out about racial injustice, and popes dating to Paul VI have voiced support for King’s message of non-violent protest and the civil rights movement. History’s first pope from the global south is no different.

Francis quoted King at length during his historic speech to the US Congress in 2015, and spoke out last year in the aftermath of the protests spurred by the police killing of a Black man, George Floyd.