Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

8/29/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

It is Human Rights which were the subject of his message and his heroism. They are ours because we have received them from God

On this day when we remember the dream - and honor the heroic life and death of a great Christian man - let us follow his example by sacrificially engaging all of the great human rights issues of our age. Paramount among them is the freeing of a new slave class, children in the first home of the whole human race, who have no voice but our own. They are our first neighbors, yet they are treated as property to be disposed of when they are not wanted. They need to be included in the promise of being free at last! 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. giving his I Have a Dream Speech. We can honor the memory and sacrificial life and death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by defending the first and fundamental human right, the Right to Life. Remember his own words, 'Now is the time to make justice a reality to all of God's children'. That includes our youngest neighbors in the womb

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. giving his I Have a Dream Speech. We can honor the memory and sacrificial life and death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by defending the first and fundamental human right, the Right to Life. Remember his own words, "Now is the time to make justice a reality to all of God's children". That includes our youngest neighbors in the womb

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

8/29/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Martin Luther King, Jr., Dr King, I have a dream, President Obama, racial equality, anti-discrimination, Human Rights, Right to Life, Dr Martin Luther King Jr.


WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) - On this day when thousands will gather in Washington, DC and around the Nation to recall the historic "I Have  Dream Speech" of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I spent some time reflecting on that moving speech. As a little boy, growing up in the inner city of Dorchester, Massachusetts, I memorized it. I remember even trying to imitate his cadence and manner of delivery as I practiced it.

Dr. King has always been a hero of mine. As a young man, I discovered many more of his speeches, sermons and writings. I strongly recommend that my readers that you purchase a beautiful little book which compiles some his sermons entitled "Strength to Love".  I have an old version with tattered pages, some of which are falling out. I regularly return to the book for inspiration. You will as well, once you read the contents.

On 16 April 1963 this great American leader, a Christian man who understood the fundamental truth that all men and women are endowed by God the Creator with inalienable rights, wrote what has become one of my favorite among his beautiful writings, speeches and sermons. Entitled, after the fact, a "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" , it can be read here. It was addressed to "My Fellow Clergymen."

This profound letter is a manifesto for every Christian - and especially Christian Clergy - who wants to  understand and live the obligation we have to stand for authentic Social Justice. Oh, I know the term has been coopted by many self-interested people and even twisted by some folks with agendas which were not Dr. King's. However, it is a term which should not be given up by contemporary Christians. We must ensure that not only the term - but its true meaning - are advanced in this hour.

As a Clergyman, a Deacon of the Catholic Church, I prayerfully read this letter every year during the important American holiday when we remember this great American hero. I did so again this morning as we paused to consider the anniversary of his famous "I Have  a Dream" Speech. After reflectively re-reading that speech, and praying for our Nation, I also re-read the manifesto now entitled "letter from a Birmingham Jail".

All of his writings are connected to, and flow from, his faith because Dr. King was first and foremost, a dedicated Christian. It was his bedrock faith in Jesus Christ and his deep understanding of the unity of the message of salvation which His saving life, death and resurrection offers to all men and women, which animated his extraordinary life's work.  He did not separate faith and life.

Even the salutation at the beginning of the letter speaks volumes. He addressed it to "My Fellow Clergymen". He engaged in this work because he was first called by God. Reverend Dr. King was unjustly imprisoned at the time of the writing of this letter for defending the fundamental human rights of every single human person. I say HUMAN rights because these rights have their source in our identity as human persons created in the Image of God. The Government did not grant them and the Government cannot take them away.

Without any fear of being considered "too religious", he defended his position with a vibrant Christian witness. Because we are all human persons, we have human rights. The source of those rights is God the Creator, in whose Image we have been created. Civil Rights, as important as they may be, are the domain of the State. And, as is obvious from Dr. King's imprisonment, they are not always justly enforced or protected.

It is Human Rights which were the subject of his message and his heroism. They are ours because we have received them from God. The first among them is the right to life itself. Without that Right to Life there can be no other rights. Human Rights are goods of the human person and every procured abortion takes the life of an innocent human person.

He wrote his jailhouse letter when he was the President of a CHRISTIAN group: "I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights."

It was his Christian faith that inspired this letter. It was because of his faith in Jesus Christ that he had the courage to live his heroic life and suffer his martyr's death. It was his Christian faith which not only inspired and informed the speech we commemorate today and the Letter from Jail to which I refer, but helped him to persevere in the couse of justice. Dr. King truly knew the meaning of the term, Amazing Grace.

The Dream he proclaimed in that message we recall today does indeed live on, precisely because it was born from the pierced heart of the Savior whom Dr. King followed. He knew that as Jesus offered Himself on that Cross on Golgotha, he brought the only true end to all division by dealing with its root cause, recreating us in Himself and breaking down the dividing walls of hostility which separate us, bringing us into His Body. (See, e.g., Eph 2:14)

Dr King explained to some within the Christian community of his day who had objected to his methods: "I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid."

He articulated one of the best expressions of Christian solidarity which I have read in my lifetime: "I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."

Standing on the shoulders of the Old Testament Prophets and under the Shadow of the Cross where the final Prophetic voice, the Word made Flesh, hung in selfless love for all men and women, Dr. King addressed another thorny subject, the fact of unjust civil or "positive" laws:

"How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust."

Dr. King confronted those who in his day accused him of being extreme because he called some positive laws unjust - and therefore not law at all. For those who argued that opponents of unjust civil laws must not be too public in that opposition he had these words:

"One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

"Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience".

"We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country's antireligious laws."

On this day when we remember the dream and honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. we must continue his work and not succumb to the counterfeits which seek to leech upon his memory. There is no doubt that any positive or civil law which protects the killing of our youngest neighbor, the child in the womb, is an unjust law. It must be opposed and resisted. In his words, "Now is the time to make justice a reality to all of God's children".

The evil at the root of abortion on demand is the same as the evil which is at the root of slavery and its sad successor, racism. It denies the God given dignity of every human life. Every law which denies equal opportunity to any person based upon their race, gender, age, religion or ethnicity, is a fundamental violation of the Natural Moral Law which is a participation in the Divine Law.

It is always and everywhere wrong to allow any person, or any group of people, to determine who can live or who can die, who can be the recipient of human rights, and who cannot. Dr. King knew this.

Some "choices" such as treating human persons as property to be used, rather than human persons to be received as gifts and honored are always and everywhere wrong. To deny human rights to anyone, and, as in legal abortion, protect those who then choose to kill them, violates the Natural Law and is always immoral. It should also be illegal under the positive or civil law.

Among the living heirs to Dr. King's true legacy is his niece, Dr. Alveda King. According to her own witness "She is the daughter of the late slain civil rights activist Rev. A. D. King and his wife Naomi Barber King. Alveda is the grateful mother of eight children and she is a doting grandmother." She is a wonderful mother, grandmother and Christian.

She has kept the foundationally Christian vision of the late Dr. Martin Luther King alive. She knows what that letter from the Birmingham Jail clearly reveals; it was Dr. King's Christian faith which actually inspired him to his heroic life and sacrificial death. It must now become the heart of our authentic Christian activism in this hour.

Those who seek to take Dr. King's profoundly Christian vision, message and life witness and use it to advance the current "Cultural Revolution" by substituting homosexual sodomy and other sexual acts as some kind of newfound 'human right" are thieves of the truth and dishonor his memory.

Some who read that statement will accuse me of being discriminatory. Nonsense! No-one, including self identifying homosexuals and lesbians, should be treated with disrespect or denied basic human rights. That is because they are human persons with human dignity.

However, the sexual acts they engage in were never intended by Dr. King to be considered as the moral equivalent of race, gender, religious faith or ethnic origin. Nor can they ever constitute the true ground for authentic marriage or provide a firm foundation for the family, which is the first vital cell of society. In addition, the common good will not be served by denying another right, the right of children to have both a mother and a father.

On this day when we remember the dream and honor the heroic life and death of a great Christian man, let us follow his example by sacrificially engaging all of the great human rights issues of our age. Paramount among them is the freeing of a new slave class, children in the first home of the whole human race, who have no voice but our own. They are our first neighbors, yet they are treated as property to be disposed of when they are not wanted. They need to be included in the promise of being free at last! 

We can honor the memory and sacrificial life and death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by defending the first and fundamental human right, the Right to Life. Remember his own words, "Now is the time to make justice a reality to all of God's children". That includes our youngest neighbors in the womb.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2015
General Intention:
That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will may work together for peace.
Missionary Intention: That in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal.



Comments


More U.S.

GOP teams up with Israeli prime minister to forcefully override Obama's Iran policy Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

House Speaker John Boehner is seeking to enlist Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to support a congressional plan to override President Obama's Iran policy on March 3. Boehner hopes to bring Netanyahu to a joint session of the House and Senate. Boehner ... continue reading


The Prophetic Connection Between the March for Life and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

It is no accident that the March for Life always falls within the National Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. It is prophetic.We have been thrown together in a common defense of life in a western culture which has lost its moral compass. Our Marching together ... continue reading


Early Christian Deacon and Martyr Vincent Calls Us to Heroic Christian Witness in a Hostile Culture Watch

Image of Vincent was born in the Third Century in Huesca, Spain and born again to eternal life only four days into the fourth century. He lived in Saragossa where he served the holy Bishop Valerius as a Deacon.He was one of the scores of Christians who suffered brutal persecution under the evil Roman emperor named Diocletian. Diocletian is associated with the last of the ten persecutions of the nascent undivided Christian Church of the first millennium of our history.  Like many early deacons of the undivided Church such as Stephen, Lawrence and Ephrem, the hagiography which has been passed down through the Church records his holiness of life and heroic virtue. He lived the way he died, as a sign of the power of the Gospel and the truth of the presence of the Risen Jesus Christ in our midst.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The Deacon Vincent was a man like us who encountered the same Risen Lord Jesus whom we have encountered. He struggled with the choices which always accompany living the Christian life in the midst of a culture which has squeezed God and His truth out of the ... continue reading


Caught in the act: Telephone scammers get comeuppance from plucky woman Watch

Image of Becoming pro-active, Rachel Fitzsimmons decided to take action in an effort to spread awareness so that others do not fall for the swindle.

By Troy Dredge, Catholic Online

Telephone solicitors threatening phony legal action are the bane of many people's existence. They typically prey upon "old-timers" who still have landlines in their homes and are home in the evenings. Rachel Fitzsimmons, of Denver, Colorado received such a call ... continue reading


Is Israel beholden to Obama? Should the president be able to hold the American people hostage via threat of veto? Republicans and Israeli prime minister say no! Watch

Image of Benjamin Netanyahu is set to speak before a joint session of Congress on March 3 about keeping nuclear capabilities out of the hands of Iran.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

On March 3, Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu will speak before the a joint session of the U.S. Congress, a move which is as much a show of support for Israel from the Republican dominated legislature as it is a rebuff of President Obama. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


Upset over private donations, Liberal protestors barged in on the Supreme Court Watch

Image of Members of 99rise during a protest.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As the Supreme Court opened on January 21, a rare disturbance broke out which caused seven protesters to be removed. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Chief Justice John Roberts was about to announce the day's opinions when a protester stood up and began shouted: "We ... continue reading


The First Right is the Right to Life. It is Time to End Legal Abortion on Demand Watch

Image of The great human rights movement of our age is the struggle to restore to the Civil and positive law the legal recognition of the fundamental Human Right to Life. It is already a fundamental human right, and one which can never be taken away. This Right to Life is the foundation of all other rights. It is the first solidarity issue. The child in the womb is our innocent neighbor. It is wrong to kill any innocent neighbor. We know this and we have perpetuated the lie for too long.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

No one with integrity any longer argues that the little girl or little boy killed through procured abortion is not a human being. When the abortion occurs through miscarriage we properly enter into the mourning of the mother over the loss of the one we call - her ... continue reading


Archbishop Josť H. Gomez: OneLife LA and 9 Days for Life Watch

Image of Archbishop Gomez - In granting a legal right for some people to take the lives of others, the Supreme Court in effect decided that human rights are granted by government - not by God. That gives the government the final say - not only in defining what is right and wrong, but also in deciding who gets to live and who does not. There are many injustices in our society, but the most fundamental is the one our society rarely acknowledges - the routine taking of innocent human life every day through abortion.

By Archbishop Josť H. Gomez

Roe v. Wade continues to shape American consciousness and public life. At the political level, from debates in state legislatures to federal questions about health insurance, our country is clearly still divided over whether to allow abortion and what limits ... continue reading


The Dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Must Include Our Youngest Neighbors in the Womb Watch

Image of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. - Remember his words,

By Deacon Keith Fournier

On this day when we remember the dream and honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. we must continue his work and not succumb to the counterfeit agendas which seek to leech upon his noble memory. There is no doubt that any positive or civil law which ... continue reading


Roe v Wade, Doe v Bolton: The Deception Continues

Image of

By Catherine Contreras

The abortion lobby, their media lapdogs, and pro abortion politicians have been able to continue the deception that there is a "right" to take innocent human life in the womb because of a scam perpetrated by the United States Supreme Court in 1973.  On ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Hebrews 10:1-10
1 So, since the Law contains no more than a ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 40:2, 4, 7-8, 10, 11
2 He pulled me up from the seething chasm, from the ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 3:31-35
31 Now his mother and his brothers arrived and, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for January 27th, 2015 Image

St. Angela Merici
January 27: When she was 56, Angela Merici said "No" to the Pope. She was ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter