Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As my brother bishops of the United States offer a statement on the fiftieth anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, I believe that this provides us here in the Archdiocese of Detroit an opportunity for our own time of reflection. In 1963 in Detroit,Dr. King presented a challenge which still rings true today: “Nonviolence not only calls on its adherents to avoid physical violence, but it calls upon them to avoid internal violence of spirit. It calls on them to engage in that something called love.”
Racism is violence. It breeds private and public actions intended to diminish, deny, or –at its extreme –destroy one ethnic group’s dignity and its God-given right to be equals in the human family.In the Archdiocese of Detroit, we must never forget the generations of institutionalized racism and neglect that have happened here. God calls us to persevere in working to overcome that shameful past by the power of His grace.
At the same time, we acknowledge that in our community and elsewhere, violence presents itself in many forms–sometimes on a large and deadly scale. Closer to home, we see the weekly reports of the violent deaths of our neighbors and fellow citizens, young and old,in southeast Michigan.It is a terrible, unacceptable toll.
Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, frames the issue this way: “Intolerance must be confronted in all its forms: Wherever any minority is persecuted and marginalized because of its religious convictions or ethnic identity, the well being of society as a whole is endangered and each one of us must feel affected.
We honor the legacy of Dr.King when we cast aside all forms of violence. We must do this as we continue forward as a band of joyful, missionary disciples of Jesus.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
The Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron
Archbishop of Detroit