Catholic Diocese of Richmond

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Statement from Bishop Barry C. Knestout on Martin Luther King Day 2021

For Immediate Release: January 18, 2021

“Today, we celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose legacy is a testament to the fact that change for the good is always possible because God is always with us.

“In the times of uncertainty and anxiety the nation is facing due to the pandemic and civil unrest, we do well to remember the words of Dr. King: “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate….”

“Jesus taught us to love one another, as love has the power to transform hearts. As my brother bishops wrote in “Open Wide Our Hearts, a pastoral letter on racism, “to do justice requires an honest acknowledgement of our failures and the restoring of right relationships between us…to love goodness demands pursuing ‘what leads to peace and to building up one another.’” (Rom 14:19)

“We acknowledge that to truly move forward as the Body of Christ, past racial injustices in this country and within the Church must be recognized. In the last year, we have held prayer services for healing, and our parishes have organized events dedicated to addressing and resolving issues of racism and injustice. While these efforts do not erase those sins, they are a start to healing our individual and collective hearts.”