Monday, April 15, 2013

Letter from Birmingham 50th Anniversary

As celebrations mark the 50th Anniverary of the release of Pacem In Terris on April 11 1963 another anniversary  of a significant human rights document barely attracts media interest in most Churches.

Today is the 50th Anniversary of the "Letter from Birmingham". This is Martin Luther King;s response to a group of white clergy who protested about his methodology of nonviolent civil disobedience. It remains one of the great documents of human rights and public protest. It is a challenge to comfortable religious people who believe in "trickle-down" justice. Justice making is not an arm chair or Church based activity. It is won on the streets by nonviolent protest and acts of civil disobedience.Its heroes like Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day, Nelson Mandela and others have been dragged of to prison for their cause. Read and be inspired: 

50 years later the Churches have responded Leaders of U.S. Christian denominations who are part of the ecumenical organization Christian Churches Together gathered in Birmingham April 14-15 to sign a response to the letter and discuss its meaning then and now.

One participant was Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. In an April 14 address to the gathering, he stressed the importance of responding to Rev. King's words by asking forgiveness for past wrongs, appreciating efforts that have been made and being "resolved for more action."

He commended steps made by the Catholic Church including its Aug. 23, 1963, statement "On Racial Harmony," issued by the administrative board of what was then the National Catholic Welfare Conference, the predecessor of today's USCCB. It said: "We must insist that the heart of the race question is moral and religious." read more of the History of Catholicism and Racial Segregation in the USA here

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