GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Bishop David J. Walkowiak of the Grand Rapids Diocese issued a statement Monday about Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
He emphasized the importance of standing up to and speaking out against injustice, hatred and violence directed at anyone.
“Acts and attitudes of racism are sinful,” Walkowiak said. “They reveal a failure, a failure to acknowledge the value and dignity of the persons who are subjected to this evil; failure to see in each one of them the brother or sister that Christ calls us to love.”
Read the bishop’s full statement:
The anger and violence that is rippling across our country is a direct result of a lack of justice, love and peace. Sadly, once again and far too often, racism: institutional racism, cultural racism, personal racism is why this deficiency exists. Following a year where we have become more aware of the mark racism has left on our society, we reflect on the legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who encouraged Americans to stand up for equality, justice, and peace – the message of the Gospel. He showed us that it is possible to fight for what we believe in, in a non-violent way.
Almost 60 years later, Dr. King’s words still remind us of where we are as a country, “Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time (Yes) (Now) to make justice a reality for all of God’s children. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment.” (Dr. King, I Have a Dream speech, Aug. 1963)
We are disciples of Christ. We are citizens of God's kingdom of justice, love and peace. Those are not mere words. We cannot remain silent and indifferent to injustice, hatred and violence directed at any member of our human family. Acts and attitudes of racism are sinful. They reveal a failure, a failure to acknowledge the value and dignity of the persons who are subjected to this evil; failure to see in each one of them the brother or sister that Christ calls us to love.
Let us use this day to pray for a genuine conversion of heart, to complete an act of kindness for a stranger, or to say an extra prayer for peace in our world as we commemorate the life of Dr. King.