Bishop decries racism at MLK Day Mass


CHARLESTON — A Mass for Peace and Justice was celebrated by Bishop David B. Thompson at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist Jan. 19 honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the head of the Diocese of Charleston used the occasion to address the sin of racism and to deplore it. Bishop Thompson, a member of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops African-American Concerns Committee, told attendees in his homily that through baptism, all Christians are united as one.

“St Paul tells us that there is no Jew, no Greek, no slave nor master, all are united in Christ Jesus,” the bishop stated. “That should give all of us a great deal of dignity.”

He added that in Catholicism, all receive Holy Communion equally, and he asked all in attendance to think of baptism and Catholicism in trying to defeat racism.

“We are all made in the likeness of God. We are all equal in one body of Christ,” Bishop Thompson said.

He ended by saying, ” We have to see we are all sons and daughters of God. We are all equal to receive the Lord’s blessing.”

Before the end of the service, Catherine Fleming Bruce, director of the diocesan Office of Black Catholics, talked of the impact Dr. King’s struggle and work has had on society.

“Martin Luther King said the church had the racial scourge as well, and we have to apply remedies. There are things that have to be done,” said Bruce.

She discussed how King transformed his campaign from racial justice to also include support for the poor, and how these stories of struggle inspire her.

“Each of us must perceive the right thing to do,” Bruce stressed, emphasizing King’s “dangerous unselfishness.”

A soon to be released evangelization plan from of Office of Black Catholics was also revealed by Bruce. “This is one piece toward moving us where we need to go,” she said. “All of these things depend on all of you.”

She concluded: “May the spirit of Dr. King remain with us.”

Music for the liturgy was provided by a diocesan choir comprised from singers of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Christ Our King, Our Lady of Mercy, St. John’s, St. John the Beloved, and St. Patrick parishes. Gift bearers included members from the Knights of Peter Claver.