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Martin Luther King Jr. Day Honored In Nation's Capital Martin Luther King Jr. Day Honored In Nation's Capital  (2021 Getty Images)

US Bishops renew call for peaceful transition of power

US Catholic Bishops renew their call for a peaceful transition of power this week recalling Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s example.

By Lisa Zengarini

Amidst growing threats of further violence at the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, on Wednesday January 20, US bishops have renewed their strong call for a peaceful transition and for reconciliation in the Country.  

Following the unprecedented storming of the Capitol by pro-Trump supporters on January 6, FBI has warned of “armed protests” in State capitals and Washington, DC, this week, including groups threatening “a huge uprising”.

"Do not be led astray by a voice that is not from God"

In this context Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, has once again urged peace, warning that “anyone considering further violence” is “led astray by a voice that is not from God”. According to the prelate, “the violence of January 6, and the many voices that urged it on, including some political leaders”, are the “opposite” of God’s will: “Please look into your heart.  Look at the images of the events on January 6. Look at the messages that accompanied them on social media.   Look at the symbols of racial hatred in the crowd.  If you supported this, or are considering further actions in the coming week, ask: is what I intend the fruit of the Holy Spirit?  Are my intentions expressions of love for others, including those I may consider enemies?  Are they reflections of joy? Will they lead to peace? Do they exhibit patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control?”, the statement reads.   

Citing St. Paul’s words, Archbishop Coakley therefore calls on everyone not to “listen to those sowing hatred, anger, and divisions” as they lead “away from God”.  “Though sometimes masked in deceit or seemingly demanded by fear, for your sake and the sake of others, do not mistake empty promises for the love and peace that come only from God”, the statement concludes.

Like Martin Luther King strive to 'cut the chain of hate'

USCCB’s president Archbishop José H. Gomez too has called for peace in this moment of transition and uncertainty in the US. In a statement for today’s Observance of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the Archbishop of Los Angeles notes  that as the County confronts “its deep divisions”, it faces “the same choices that Rev. King and the civil rights movement faced” over 50 years ago.

Quoting Rev. King’s words, the prelate stresses that the “chain of hate” can be cut off only “by projecting the ethics of love to the centre of our lives”. “This is the challenge for everyone of us who believes in the promise of America and seeks to renew the soul of this great nation”, he writes.  “In the spirit of Rev. King, we must meet the forces of hate and ignorance with the power of love. We must learn again the wisdom of the Gospel and love our enemies and bless those who oppose us. In this moment, Rev. King would counsel everyone in public life to seek reconciliation and reject the easy temptation to reprisals and recrimination”, Archbishop Gomez adds.

Reminding Rev. King’s words that we “do not love those who oppose us because they are loveable, or even likable”, but “because God loves them”, the statement finally points to the “Christian duty” “to be healers and peacemakers, to overcome evil and lies, not by more of the same, but with words of truth and works of love”.  

18 January 2021, 17:30