BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CNA/EWTN News)–The example of Martin Luther King Jr., calls Americans today to renew their commitment to justice and charity, reflected the head of the Knights of Peter Claver ahead of the annual holiday recognizing the civil rights leader.
“We must illustrate and express ever more evidently the familial bond we share in faith. Just as people often remember King as a drum major for justice, we must view ourselves as drum majors for justice in this contemporary age,” said F. DeKarlos Blackmon, Supreme Knight of the historically black Catholic fraternal organization.
“After all, there can be no true justice, no true harmony, no true righteousness, and no true integrity without love. Our pursuit of authentic justice must be rooted in love.”
In a Jan. 17 statement just ahead of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Blackmon – who chairs the school board of the Birmingham diocese – exhorted Catholics to reflect not only on King’s life and work, “but also on the challenge each of us has as baptized members of Christ’s faithful.”
“The word of God and King’s deep convictions led him to challenge these United States to live out its creed that all men are created equal. If we cannot look upon one another as brothers and sisters, we dare not call our God ‘Father.’”
Blackmon called on Catholics to consider that faith is “not as much about us as individuals as it is about us as a loving family,” and that the unity is one of the marks of the Church, saying we are “bound by Christ” and urged by St. Paul “to live in a manner worthy of the call (we) have received.
“King understood this; King preached this; and King lived this. The beatific call in his life led him from humble beginnings to the ‘mountaintop.’”
The Knight of Peter Claver also remembered the Catholics who worked against segregation in this country, noting Joseph Rummel, archbishop of New Orleans from 1935 to 1964; Joseph Durick, who was auxiliary bishop of Mobile-Birmingham when he was among the addressees of King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”; and the Edmundite and Josephite Fathers, who ministered to black families.
“Durick, who was transformed by King’s plea, became an outspoken activist and advocate for civil rights and equal justice for everyone. … Durick, like King and so many others, helped people to rise above their personal interests to bring about positive change for the greater community.”
Blackmon called on Catholics “to become ever inspired by the teachings of Christ,” saying that it is by “living authentically the Gospel values” that “we can more effectively challenge our country to live out its conviction that indeed ‘all men are created equal.’
“We must recommit ourselves to being true peacemakers. We must commit to establish our homes as the first and best schools of reconciliation, compassion, mercy, and love.”
Blackmon concluded, “May we live the Gospel values fully and completely, and may we stand up for that which we profess to believe. Let us be willing to lose our lives for the sake of the Gospel. May the all-powerful Lord grant us his grace and keep us in his peace.”