On February 14, 2018, Ash Wednesday, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Maryland, released a pastoral letter entitled, The enduring power of Dr. Martin Luther King’s principles of nonviolence.
In his reflection, Archbishop Lori writes that he hopes that Dr. King’s principles of nonviolence, honed in the civil rights movement of the United States, will shape the consciousness of the Catholic Church.
The teaching document addresses the riots that shook Baltimore in 2015 following the death of Freddie Gray Jr., who died from injuries while in police custody. It encourages a serious examination for U.S. Catholics of Kingian nonviolence — including reflection questions tied to each of Dr. King’s principles of nonviolence — and ties this philosophy to the history of Catholic witness and presence in Baltimore as well as to “Safe Streets,” an current evidence-based, trauma-informed, anti-violence project carried out in partnership with Catholic Charities.
Archbishop Lori says that he hopes to lift up Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s principles of nonviolence and help them find their way into the consciousness of the church – “the whole church, myself, my brother priests, the leadership of the archdiocese, those involved in ministries.”
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Dr. King’s principles for nonviolence:
1. Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.
2. Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding.
3. Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice, not people.
4. Nonviolence holds that suffering can educate and transform.
5. Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate.
6. Nonviolence believes that justice will ultimately triumph.
Dr. King’s actions for social transformation:
1. Information gathering
3. Personal commitment
5. Direct action