By Devin Watkins
Wednesday, April 4th marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The American Baptist minister and civil rights activist was assassinated in 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, while fighting poverty and racism.
He was talking with friends on the balcony of Lorraine Motel on April 4, 1968, when he was struck down by a bullet.
Following Dr. King’s death, Pope Paul VI at an Angelus address in St. Peter’s Square expressed his sorrow for the killing “of a Christian prophet for racial integration”.
Pope Francis, in his address to the U.S. Congress on September 24, 2015, said Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream continues to inspire Christians around the world.
Non-violence and Global solidarity
Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, spoke to Alessandro Gisotti from Vatican News about the similarities between Dr. King and Pope Francis.
He said the two men share a focus on the importance of non-violence and the need for global solidarity.
Archbishop Jurkovič said, “Every human development can be achieved only through non-violence. Violence represents new problems and new divisions.”
Regarding the need for solidarity, he said the Church believes, and Martin Luther King, Jr. believed, that “we all belong to one human family and we have to overcome every division, especially those based on racial or social differences.”
“The perception is that Pope Francis is one of the few people really, consistently defending human rights… Striving for peace,” Archbishop Jurkovič said, “must become a global paradigm of political development.”