The leader of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference (USCCB), Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez, lamented Friday that unfortunately, in America it is still true that skin color often matters more than the “content of our character.”
“For much of the past year, America has been reckoning with the legacy of slavery and the persistence of racial injustice in our country,” Archbishop Gomez said in his January 15 message for Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
“Sadly, it is still true that the ‘color of our skin’ often matters more in our society than the ‘content of our character,’ as Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., said a half-century ago,” the archbishop noted.
As Rev. King said in his 1967 speech “Where Do We Go from Here?”: “Let us be dissatisfied until that day when nobody will shout ‘White Power!’—when nobody will shout ‘Black Power!’—but everybody will talk about God’s power and human power.”
In Friday’s message, Archbishop Gomez underscored “Rev. King’s belief in nonviolence and the power of love.”
“As we witnessed in the violence in our cities last summer and in the violence that broke out again last week at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., our country has become too angry, too bitter, and too divided,” the archbishop said.
“And as we confront our deep divisions, we face the same choices that Rev. King and the civil rights movement faced,” he added. “For us, too, the question is how will we struggle against the injustices in our society, what means will we use?”
Citing Rev. King, Gomez declared: “Along the way of life, someone must have the sense enough and the morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can only be done by projecting the ethics of love to the center of our lives.”
“In this moment, Rev. King would counsel everyone in public life to seek reconciliation and reject the easy temptation to reprisals and recrimination,” the archbishop said.
“We do not love those who oppose us because they are loveable, or even likable, Rev. King once said. We love them because God loves them,” Gomez reiterated.
“And by our love, we seek their conversion and friendship, not their humiliation,” he said. “This is our Christian duty in this moment — 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.”