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Pope backs Chicago’s ‘Good Friday Walk for Peace’ inspired by Martin Luther King

Antoine Mekary | Aleteia
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Tells Cardinal Cupich that he will be united in prayer

Pope Francis this week sent a letter to Cardinal Blasé Cupich of the Archdiocese of Chicago, expressing his support of local efforts to promote nonviolence.

According to a statement released by the Archdiocese, it was decided to launch “an anti-violence initiative to increase the capacity and reach of current programs that address the root causes of violence and to identify and actively seek partnerships with like-purposed groups and individuals.”

The Archdiocese also announced it is seeking out and investing in new approaches and partnerships to break the violence-causing cycle of despair, racism and poverty.

The campaign was launched April 4 to coincide with the 49th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and will be highlighted by a “Good Friday Walk for Peace” that will occur on April 14.

Pope Francis explained in the letter his closeness to the many victims of violence in Chicago, writing, “I know that many families have lost loved ones to violence. I am close to them, I share in their grief, and pray that they may experience healing and reconciliation through God’s grace. I assure you of my support for the commitment you and many other local leaders are making to promote nonviolence as a way of life and a path to peace in Chicago.”

He continued: “As I make my own Way of the Cross in Rome that day, I will accompany you in prayer, as well as all those who walk with you and who have suffered violence in the city.”

In the letter Pope Francis quoted Martin Luther King Jr., and urged everyone “to respond to Dr. King’s prophetic words and know that a culture of nonviolence is not an unattainable dream, but a path that has produced decisive results. The consistent practice of nonviolence has broken barriers, bound wounds, healed nations—and it can heal Chicago.”

He then concluded his letter by assuring the city of his prayers and to “never lose hope” in the ongoing struggle for peace.

The pope has previously highlighted Martin Luther King’s advocacy of rights for all. In Francis’ address to a joint session of Congress in September 2015, he offered King, along with Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Merton, and Dorothy Day, as four sons and daughters of America with admirable dreams.

Full text of the pope’s letter:

To Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago

Dear Brother,

Please convey to the people of Chicago that they have been on my mind and in my prayers. I know that many families have lost loved ones to violence. I am close to them, I share in their grief, and pray that they may experience healing and reconciliation through God’s grace. I assure you of my support for the commitment you and many other local leaders are making to promote nonviolence as a way of life and a path to peace in Chicago. You are marking that effort by inviting people of goodwill to walk for peace on Good Friday in areas afflicted by violence.

As I make my own Way of the Cross in Rome that day, I will accompany you in prayer, as well as all those who walk with you and who have suffered violence in the city. Sadly, as you have told me, people of different ethnic, economic, and social backgrounds suffer discrimination, indifference, injustice, and violence today. We must reject this exclusion and isolation, and not think of any group as “others,” but rather as our own brothers and sisters. This openness of heart and mind must be taught and nurtured in the homes and in schools. Walking the path of peace is not always easy, but it is the only authentic response to violence.

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, humanity “must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.” I urge all people, especially young men and women, to respond to Dr. King’s prophetic words and know that a culture of nonviolence is not an unattainable dream, but a path that has produced decisive results. The consistent practice of nonviolence has broken barriers, bound wounds, healed nations—and it can heal Chicago. I pray that the people of your beautiful city never lose hope, that they work together to become builders of peace, showing future generations the true power of love.

I ask you to pray for me too.

From the Vatican, 4 April 2017

Francis

 

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