Help me and another brother out here. I am getting concerned again. One of the best Catholic Bloggers, and a great promoter of Catholic presence on the Web, Brandon Vogt, is being lectured to by his “disappointed” his readers since he spoke of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a “hero and prophet.”(His post is here: Martin Luther King – Hero and Prophet)

Wowza, his combox really lit up with lecturers and various levels of excoriators who hastened to remind him of King’s foibles, and of his political leanings that were not comfortable enough to them.

Truth be told, no true prophet really fits in, whether it be Dr. King or Brandon. Yes, we are dealing with stuff that is actually pretty much the norm for prophets. I am particularly mindful of Jeremiah, who was cast into prison for being “unpatriotic” (cf Jer 37-38), for he had prophesied that the Babylonians would conquer, if Israel did not repent.

Prophets just don’t fit in. They break through political distinctions, and tend to offend just about everyone, even as they also affirm across political boundaries.

Jesus was crucified “outside the gate” to symbolize that he fit nowhere in Israel’s little systems and categories. He was hated by all the political parties of his day: The Herodians, the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and the Zealots. They agreed on nothing, except this one thing: “Jesus has to go.” The Book of Hebrews admonishes, Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore (Heb 13:13). Here is a true disciple, a true Catholic, a true follower of Jesus, one who does not fit into the little parties of his day but thinks and acts beyond such restrictions.

I am not sure if Dr. King were alive today if he would be Republican or Democrat. I am not even sure if he would be pro-life.  I think he would, and perhaps he could have saved the Democratic Party from signing on to its, pro-death platform. His niece Alfreda seems to think he would have been prolife. I don’t personally know. But you know, it is a sad truth that we did not afford him the possibility to speak for himself.

Yes, we like our ancestors, tend to kill prophets, especially those who do not fit in to our little categories. Jesus had little patience for our categories, parties, factions and other little nicities:

Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your forefathers who killed them. So you testify that you approve of what your forefathers did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. Because of this, God in his wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.’ Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all. (Luke 11:48-52).

Yes, we abort our babies and kill the prophets, and while we like to make nice little distinctions, in the end, dead still means dead. And Dr. King is no less dead in his imperfection than our babies are in their innocence.

We kill many who God sends to us. And instead of chirping about whether they belonged to the right party or were 100% virtuous, we ought to repent for what we have done as a nation. God’s martyrs don’t fall so nicely into our little worldly categories.

And as for those who will bring forth the “womanizer/adulterer charges against Dr. King, let us further reflect that prophets are not perfect. Moses was a murderer, so was David, and an adulterer besides. Isaiah went about preaching naked, Jonah was reluctant and an ultra-nationalist, St Paul had a bad temper, Jacob was a shyster, Peter was inconsistent and a denier, the Samaritan woman was adulteress, Mary Madelene had demons, seven of them, St Augustine was a fornicator, Jerome had an anger management issue. etc.

St. Paul, (did I mention that he had conspired to murder Christians, and had a bad temper?) spoke of us as carrying our treasure “in earthen vessels” (2 Cor 4:7).

If you have read this blog for any length of time, you know that I do not make light of sin. But if we are going to start insisting that priests and prophets be sinless and without struggles, then every blog must go dark, every pulpit go silent, every ministry and apostolate go inactive.

I do not know Dr. King’s sins. I have heard the rumors. But that is what they are, rumors. You will tell me you read it on the Internet and that the FBI “has a file.” Great, show me proof in writing, and make sure it is not fabricated. Until then, beware that gossip and the ruination of reputations is a very serious matter, and we need to be certain before to spread rumors.

And to the degree that Dr. King may have sinned and sinned seriously, what of the others listed above. But they repented you say. Yes I pray they did. But are you sure Dr. King did not? Are you certain that as he lay dying he did not call on God’s mercy?

We need to be very careful. For the measure that we measure to others will be measured back to us (Mat 7:2). Only the merciful will obtain mercy (Mat 5:7), and if we have not forgiven others neither will we be forgiven by the Father (James 2:13, Matt 6).

In the end no one can deny that Dr. Martin Luther King helped bring forth greater justice in this land. And he did so in a way that was profoundly in keeping with Jesus’ way, the way of love and non-violence. If God used an imperfect man to do this, that is God’s business not mine.

And as for Brandon Vogt, he is a fine Catholic and superb blogger who deserved better than to be treated as he was by many in his combox. I have noted many times before, (and paid dearly for it) that far too many Catholics are political before they are Catholic or biblical . Catholicism and Biblical Christianity do not fit into anyone nice little worldly category or political philosophy. Good prophets love God’s people and are just as likely to afflict the comfortable as comfort the afflicted. (We are all in both categories). True Catholicism does not fit perfectly into any political party. Catholic needs to trump party at every turn. Sadly it does not always do so.

If Dr. King doesn’t fit into our Catholic world perfectly, that should not wholly exclude him, We cannot, and should not canonize him, to do so would be patronizing. But in the end he did something important for this country and paid dearly for it. The Lord Jesus himself gives us a critical norm to follow in assessing others:

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. (Mat 7:17-20)

Maybe that is the best we can do with Dr. King, honor what God was able to accomplish through him, whatever his personal struggles, or hidden faults. The fruits of what he did were necessary even if “our party” or “our Church” was not the main way God chose to work it. It is horrifying and embarrassing to think that we tolerated as a country “Whites Only” signs, and “Colored” areas.

I pray one day we will be just as horrified that we ever tolerated and called a “right” the killing of the unborn. But killing prophets and narrow-casting Catholicism is no way to get there. Until we can demonstrate that we stand above narrow little political distinctions, our credibility and prophetic bona fides are easily assailed by a cynical world. We are not the Democratic Party at prayer, neither are we the Republican Party at prayer. We are Catholics and the Body of Christ at prayer.

Help me out here. I must once again lament the “death by a thousand cuts that we Catholic so easily visit on one another. Are there not enough secular opponents and critics that we must do this to one another? Come on Church, are you prayin’ with me?

Also here is a recent prayer of a Protestant minister and old friend of mine, Rev. Rob Schenck (His Brother Paul is a Catholic priest). Both are pro-life warriors and speak prophetically, praising what can be praised, and laying out what must be repented of.

57 Responses

  1. Nathan says:

    I had commented over there a couple of times myself and was surprised at the vitriol expressed over what Brandon had written. Some of the phrases Brandon used were a bit over the top, but after re-reading some of the comments, I was left wondering why King brings such hatred to the surface. I can’t help but think that President’s Day will pass without Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln being subjected to the same treatment, and they had faults to outweigh King’s. I know, as an Italian-American, I happily celebrate Columbus Day b/c of the his accomplishments and despite his flaws, the same ought to be done for King.

  2. John Clem says:

    Thanks for defending Brandon Vogt. He is truly a shining star in Catholic New Media, as author, speaker, and blogger. He is a great example of apostleship and has helped finance computers and digital books to the poor and for seminarians in Africa. He is following in the footsteps of Christ and MLK. Can all these critics say the same of themselves?

  3. Paul Zummo says:

    I was just reflecting on this earlier when I heard an interview on EWTN radio (1160 AM) with someone who was discussing the life of Dr. King. It’s true that sometimes we have the tendency to fall into blind hagiography with certain historical figures, and we should acknowledge the personal faults of Dr. King. That being said, the opposite tendency is to define people by those faults. There are no perfect human beings, and we’re constantly told of the many imperfections of the saints (and no, I am not calling Dr. King a saint – at least as far as I know).

  4. The Ironic Catholic says:

    “And as for those who will bring forth the “womanizer/adulterer charges against Dr. King, let us further reflect that prophets are not perfect. Moses was a murderer, so was David, and an adulterer besides. Isaiah went about preaching naked, Jonah was reluctant and an ultra-nationalist, St Paul had a bad temper, Jacob was a shyster, Peter was inconsistent and a denier, the Samaritan woman was adulteress, Mary Madelene had demons, seven of them, St Augustine was a fornicator, Jerome had an anger management issue. etc.”

    All I can say is AMEN and thank you for this. I didn’t see Brandon’s post or the comments, but I’ve seen plenty of sharp words about MLK today. I’m telling you, people, I grew up in the South. Maybe people outside the South still don’t get it. This man, a believer, a sinner, and voice for the voiceless, allowed God to use him to change things. Look at a good history book to see how badly the civil rights movement would have gone without his and a handful of others’ nonviolent influence. It would have happened–it could not truly be stopped by the 60s–but it would have taken many, many lives and left even more hatred and bitterness.

    If you also know the history of Catholics and Protestants working together to ensure civil rights in the 50s and 60s, you would also see today as a very fitting beginning of the Week for Christian Unity. Are ANY civil rights movements led by the Christian community any more? And look how well that is working out. I’m just saying–we have a model in the 1960s in how to do this and how not to do this. We owe our brother in Christ, Martin Luther King, a debt of gratitude.

    If we denigrate the heroic good in our society for the sake of the overweening politically-driven Catholic purity…we look petty, mean, short-sighted, and generally anything but Christian. Not our finest moment. God help us.

  5. Jo the Housewife says:

    Please don’t go silent. We need the voices! We all need to wake up and DO the right thing (not just the WRITE thing). Those who complain–what are they doing? There are times we have to questions–I’ve even questioned why you speak at the Los Angeles Religious Education Conference since it is full of all out dissenters. Then I think, where better to “minister” to those in NEED…truly in need of truth. Walk among sinners of every kind, but speak the truth and perhaps you will turn a heart or two, or plant a seed (and let God do the rest). Please keep talking, and there will always be those in the crowd who shout “Crucify him!” And there will always be those who join in without even understanding why. Prayers for you, Father.

  6. Gail Finke says:

    “I have noted many times before, (and paid dearly for it) that far too many Catholics are political before they are Catholic or biblical.” Isn’t that the truth! And a sad truth, too.

  7. Mandy P. says:

    I’m not really sure what the controversy is even about here. I know the political left likes to claim him, but it’s pretty well-known that King was a registered Republican at the very least. And that makes sense because the Democrat party at the time was the main force behind segregation and Jim Crow laws. All the speculation about King being a communist seems to be just that and it seems to come from people who may have supported hima the time but have now embraced a far-left ideology and are less than reputable in character (think Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and their ilk). Who knows? Maybe he leaned that way in the last bit if his life. He’s not exactly around to tell us and I don’t think we should malign him because people who are less than trustworthy and are obviously pushing an agenda say something unverifiable about him now, half a century later.

    As far as the rest of it, I think some folks overreacted a bit to the way Mr. Vogt phrased his piece but I don’t have a problem with it at all. I don’t think he’s trying to canonize King and I don’t have a problem with honoring the good the man did and the virtues he spoke up for. No one’s suggesting his flaws should be glorified, only the ideals he putforward. We’re all sinners here and no one lives up to everything we believe. I think this is a case of some folks needing to hold off on casting that first stone.

    Just my two cents.

    • What if we didn’t use a political template at all, but rather a Catholic one?

    • Mandy P. says:

      I just re-read my last paragraph and I think that first sentence is a bit unclear. What I meant to say was that I think some of the commenters overreacted to Vogt’s phrasing but that I did not have a problem with his piece. When I re-read it it sounded like I was agreeing with his commenters and that’s not the case. Just wanted to clarify.

  8. ThomasL says:

    Probably took less time to find and read this than to write your comment:

    http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/kingpapers/article/volume_i_13_september_to_23_november_19491/

    • ThomasL says:

      I suppose he may have been pandering to his professors…

    • Yeah, I wonder if I’d like all my Seminary papers to be called forth to speak for me today. I have changed a bit in 25 years.

      • ThomasL says:

        Nonetheless the views he wrote were very unorthodox. You are assuming that he changed his mind for the better, which I hope he did, but now that is what needs to be substantiated. That is, his unorthodox views on the divinity of Christ, the Virgin Birth, and the Resurrection have been substantiated by his own written words. What is unsubstantiated is that he later changed his mind.

        • ThomasL says:

          FWIW, none of this means he didn’t make some very good points about race. But “prophet” doesn’t just mean, “made some good points” otherwise Huey Newton is a prophet, Winston Churchill, George Will, Juan Williams are all prophets, &c., &c.

          In the sense that we can all say the truth, and all truth is God’s truth no matter who speaks it, it kind of works, but it is not what people normally mean by prophet.

          As a general activity, I don’t think anyone needs to try to figure out what he believed and when he believed it. God knows already, and there is nothing any of the rest of us can do about it now. Listen, forget the evil and hold fast to what is good.

          However, when he is praised as, “a poet, a prophet, a preacher, a philosopher, and a theologian” it is not unfair to point out that his theology in particular was dangerously unsound.

  9. Ruth Ann Pilney says:

    I read Brandon’s post early this morning and I loved it. I didn’t read any comments, though. I had no idea that saying what he did about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. could engender so much vitriol. Thank you for defending Brandon, and even more for explaining how God uses us, imperfect though we are, for his purposes.

    • Yes, imperfect though we are. I do get frustrated at how easily people today dismiss others on account of sin but never stop to consider that if their requirement had to be met all prophecy and preaching would cease. It is another version of the “I don’t go to Church but the Church is filled with hypocrites” canard of the irreligious. sadly it proceeds under separate cover from the mouths of Catholics.

  10. John says:

    The problem here isn’t just that too many Catholics think in political terms before religious ones. No, a major problem is catholic blogging. Too many bloggers produce more heat than light to those wanting to find out more about the Catholic faith. I even heard one particularly arrogant blogger calling Catholic bloggers “opinion formers” in matters of Catholic faith! Reckon I’ll stop reading the blogs and spend more time with the real catholic “opinion formers” – Jesus, the saints and the fathers!

  11. Eileen McGinnis says:

    Do we forget that Moses was a murderer, David was an adulterer. Jesus came for sinners not the righteous.

  12. Ann says:

    Well, on the one hand, if you write something on the internet, be ready for criticism. On the other hand, the Catholic blogosphere is a rather toxic environment in my opinion, for various reasons, so I am not surprised. Which is why I took most of the blogs out of my blog reader, except for about three, one of which is yours Msgr. Not really interested in being part of that club.

  13. Howard says:

    While you’re at it, why not say, “Martin Luther King was not just a prophet, he was also a priest. What’s more, he was a pope.” After all, he was baptized, right? That gives him a share in the common priesthood of believers. He also had kids, and “pope” is just an Anglicization of an Italian word meaning “dad”. He’s also a pilot of sorts if he could drive a car; an engineer of sorts if he ever worked on his car; and a coach of sorts if he ever gave advice to someone on sports. He could be just about anything you want, as long as you set the bar for the meaning low enough.

    So yes, for a certain definition of prophet, he was a prophet. So was Balaam son of Beor. But it is false to say he was a prophet in the sense of Isaiah or John the Baptist.

  14. Doug says:

    My objection to the original post by Mr. Vogt was that “prophet” in the title seemed over the top. Just as you have told us of how the years spent in a community have helped shape you, I’m also responding to a community I spent a lot of time in. I was a public school teacher for many years in a racially diverse community. Martin Luther King Jr. was exalted as the near second coming of Christ. I think we can give him praise, but not excessive praise.

    Many of his supporters now focus on him, and not on the principles of Christ which he followed. Can we refocus on that?

    Msgr. Pope you write “I do not say he was a saint, I do say he was a prophet on race.” Please, tell me what did he write or say which prompts you to come to this conclusion? Or point me in the direction of a link where I will read more.

    Rather ironic that this kerfuffle came on a day with the Inauguration of a Black man to a second term as President. Don’t forget that Southern Reconstruction ended when a Democratic Presidential candidate agreed to remove Federal troops from the South. He then got their electoral votes, and the South was free to institute Jim Crow laws. Martin Luther King Jr. worked against those Jim Crow laws, and it was majorities in the Republican caucuses in Congress which led to the passage of Civil Rights laws. The Klu Klux Klan wrought violence against Blacks, Jews and Catholics.

  15. Patt says:

    It is true that many Catholics put their politics above their religion. We have many Democratic politicians
    starting with Biden that prefer to serve their Party first. On the other hand we have some Bishops that instead of focusing on our spiritual direction get into political issues —like gun control— supporting those that would have us give up the right to bear arms (to protect ourselves against the criminal). Neither group is doing the right thing.

    In the meanwhile MLK is entitled to his day of remembrance.

  16. Nathan says:

    At the very least we should all be able to agree that assessing King’s life and whether he ought to be held up as a model or rejected as wicked is a Prudential Judgement and we, as Catholics, can disagree and still be good Catholics. Personally, I see both sides here, Brandon was over the top in his praise (perhaps for rhetorical effect?) and King’s life does display some traits that ought to be lauded. It is worrying, however, to see those on one side of the issue here being treated with derision, as if an overall positive assessment of MLK is requisite of all Catholics. Further, we should all be able to agree that there is, and always has been, room for argument and strenuous disagreement (on prudential matters) in the Catholic Church. Opposing something positive posted by a blogger on MLK is not inflicting the Body of Christ with a death by a thousand cuts anymore than opposing something negative posted by a blogger on MLK is. We would do well to keep ever in mind these words quoted by Pope John XXIII, “in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

    • Brandon Vogt says:

      Nathan,

      This is second time in the combox you’ve charged me with being “over-the-top” in my praise of King. Perhaps you can give me a specific example you’re referring to? Thanks!

      • Nathan says:

        Brandon,

        Sure. I can site two that struck my ears, although I’m not certain that you were not intentionally using hyperbole, in which case the objection is withdrawn.

        1) “modern-day Isaiah”
        2) “Like Jesus…”
        3) Many seem to object to “prophet” but there are shades of meaning here that are being conflated. Certainly you were not ascribing the status of a Biblical Prophet of God to MLK, if so I would add that to the list.

        All in all, as I pointed out above, as Catholics (and I’m certain you would agree with this) we are free to dispute the legacy of MLK. I, personally, would shy away from some of the language you used as would many others who left comments on your blog. You wouldn’t. That’s fine.

        I’m not attacking you, King, or anyone else. In fact, I would argue for King’s place in our nation’s “Hall of Fame” of great historic men along side Washington, Jefferson, Franklin et al but I would hesitate to compare any of those men to our Risen Lord or to a true prophet of God, perhaps I’m being overly squeamish, but the chorus of protests on your blog might suggest otherwise.

        God Bless.

  17. Ellen says:

    Her name is Alveda, not Alfreda.

  18. James says:

    I am African-American and I do not endorse Dr. Martin Luther King, much like the way I do not endorse Robert F. Kennedy or his brother JFK. Their lives certainly intertwined and they shared certain habits that were inconsistent with their states in life. Sure, with a microphone, Dr. King promoted justice of the black race but to be consistent, will we also coronate the likes of JFK and others who promote one aspect of what freedom is? I much rather promote Harriet Tubman or Sojourner Truth…or someone else.

    But the reality is that I am constantly dismayed and confused at the amount of apologetics that is being done by White people (especially) who feel the need to stand in some sort of pretended solidarity with blacks to avoid being seen as racist or to avoid being perceived as prejudicial.

    There are pertinent questions that are not being asked. The first question is, what unites us as a country?When Dr. Martin Luther King marched, how come there were only a handful of priests at his side? Surely the Church was not racist in the least. There had to be a reason why a plentitude of Catholic hierarchy distanced themselves from the movement, which is the opposite of what I see at the March for Life. There, there are scores and score of priest and religious. Perhaps there is more clarity in the movement for life, and less ambiguity of terms when it comes to something as delicate as race relations or definitions of civil liberties.

    I certainly do not consider MLK a prophet, but I do see his accomplishments. I just think it needs to be downscaled–a lot.

  19. Scott W. says:

    Perhaps abuse doesn’t prohibit use, but let’s face it, there is only one side of the political spectrum where you will see this on the walls of a parish church.

  20. Mia says:

    Yes, Father, I hear you and I’m prayin’ with you. This hardening of hearts saddens me so.

  21. Pedro Erik says:

    Sorry, this is complete nonsense mixed with pride (a great sin so common among bloggers).

    Vogt saw similiarity between King and Jesus. He began his article with “King, like Jesus” and also called King a “modern-day Isaiah”. This is completely over-the-top. Just that. Why not asssuming this and let the essentials (non-violence approach) go?

    If King is a prophet, who are the popes who wrote so many fantastic encyclicals?

    No one should be considered in such short time a “modern-day Isaiah”. It demands much more time to evaluate. We are still evaluating Vatican II, for instance. Recently, PB16 said that he disagreed with par of the approach in Nostra Aetate, for instance.

    Oh, my God, Msgr Pope and Brandon are just making everything worse.

    • Avoid phrases like “complete nonsense mixed with pride” and “great sin” since you sort of break your own rule in uttering them.

      The word “prophet” like any word can be used denotatively, connotatively, and in theological or cultural contexts. You for example, Pedro, by baptism are baptized into a prophetic office, (and priest and king too), and that is one meaning. Prophet can also be used to refer to only to the biblical prophets, or it can be used culturally to refer to those who make great impact in renewal or reform. Language is more flexible than you seem to assume.

      • Pedro Erik says:

        Well, I can not see where I broke. Sorry.

        However, excuse me, but the sense of prophet when someone is using Isaiah is clear for me. It is biblical. It was clear in Brandon´s case, so many people are upset with that. As you see.

        • Well, some people are upset. I eliminated the last line of your comment and would advise against making accusations as to sinful motives on the part of others. You really know not whereof you speak in that matter.

          • Pedro Erik says:

            I know what pride is, but I will take your advise. I respect you and Brandon (and Fr. Barron), I am really upset about Brandon’s article and your defense, mainly because of this respect. God bless you.

  22. RichardC says:

    Let us all say a prayer for the soul of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

  23. Jamie Reynolds says:

    My impression is that many people day exhault MLK as a generic icon of “good”; they are content to do that, perhaps because it’s easy, perhaps to show that they aren’t racists, or perhaps because he has a national holiday. Only a subset truly appreciate that, while MLK started out concerned with the awful plight of blacks, he saw after a time that their plight was a symptom of larger, systemic, and much more ingrained injustice in our country.

    I cannot think of any leader – or indeed wider group (such as a church) – that is seeking to alter the fundamental structure of our society in the way MLK at least tried to. I suspect many people that acclaim MLK today would not support the kinds of transformation he and his followers wanted (perhaps some would label him a traitor or a communist).

    In that respect, I see similarities between the perceptions of MLK and Jesus. Jesus was exceptionally radical; yet many today co-opt him as a “nice guy” who preached “love” and just wanted “everybody to be nice to each other”. That wafer-thin view masks Jesus’ true teachings; and makes it harder for his kingdom to be realized on earth. Similarly, if MLK is reduced to occasional “days of service” and charity work, our country won’t change either.

    Finally, I make no comment on MLK’s private life, other than to note I’m sure he was a sinner; I hope that, as a preacher and believer, he sought forgiveness from God; and that, on balance, he did more to bring forth God’s kingdom than a lot of other people.

  24. Donna says:

    I think what concerns so many of us is that the term “prophet” is being used in a biblical sense. If MLK is being written about as a modern-day “Isaiah” and compared to Our Lord, then yes, he is being compared to people who were holy. MLK was not. Yes, Mary Magdalene, Peter, Paul, Augustine, Jerome, etc. had committed grave sins, but that was before the grace of God transformed them. They were living in and died in a state of grace.

    We live in a culture that idolizes people for the wrong reasons. MLK is to be admired and praised, for sure. I admire him…I don’t idolize him. I would never compare him to Isaiah or Jesus.

    As for politics, this last election taught me that I am a Catholic first, an American second. I certainly pray for our nation and our President. We need to repent as a nation, and it needs to begin with each one of us personally. God promises that if we repent and turn to Him, He will heal our land. We lament the violence, the abortions, the sexual perversity… we are angry at others. But do we take responsibility? Are we repenting?

  25. Nate says:

    MLK should be treated to the same standards of criticism and analysis as other great Americans like Thomas Jefferson – which would result in considerably more criticism than perhaps Msgr. Pope would like but considerably less than some his detractors in the blogosphere.

    The discussion did make me think of the nature of sainthood. Paul VI who was probably one of the least competent popes in history but has been declared venerable, which implies we should separate his mostly bad decisions for the Church from the holiness exhibited in his personal life. Does this mean that our personal piety is the critical element in sainthood even if our ‘work’ decisions made the world a darker place? If so, did MLK face a rough judgement for poor decisions in his personal life even as his work in the civil rights movement made America a more just society? Can a person who unquestionably improved the world and sought Christ really be damned because of personal failings? Msgr., I am curious what you think of these issues in light of your earlier posts on Hell.

  26. Mark says:

    Msgr.
    I am conflicted, as I believe Reverend King was a man you saw the immorality of our country, as we were and to some extent are still not all equal in this countries eyes, not just by skin color or sex. I have listened to his speeches and he had so much passion for his convictions, that I wish I had just one / fourth so I could carry the word to the streets, however, I am sure some would love to point out that I am a sinner, and because of my sins will those that I try to reach then not hear my voice? I think not.

    It reminded me of two men I heard the other day arguing over whether Lance Armstrong was good or bad. One said good as his LiveStrong has raised so much money for cancer research, no way said the other he is bad because he used steroids and lied about it, and he also ruined the lives of some of his teammates. I believe he did a good act with cancer funding, but I FEEL(we feel to much) that he is unrepentant for his sins, or the sins I perceive them to be. It is only God who can see within anyone’s heart to know whether they truly repent.

    So I would ask those that dislike reverend King because of his Humanity, his sins, do they then tune out the prophets that you so revealed to them as human and sinners?
    I too get upset from time to time when secular ideas enter the church, but if we always shun the things that make us uncomfortable how will we grow in our faith.

    Msgr. forget the critics as they will always find fault and I assure you, if you spread the Gospel I will be by your side.

    Just a side note; we will be walking this Saturday, walk for life, in negative 30 degree F temp, praying the wind is not blowing as it reaches colder than that our numbers diminish. uffda.

  27. Deacon John M. Bresnahan says:

    In the government-political realm Martin Luther King accomplished much that both Whites and Blacks should embrace and celebrate. The problem isn’t with him, but with those who treat him as some sort of all-around saint. However, according to some books and articles in reliable sources (like books by fans of his), he didn’t believe in some core Christian beliefs. Thus to “canonize” him is to degrade the whole concept of saints as models of faith to be emulated.

  28. Catharine says:

    I think that what it means is that Martin Luther Kingi might just as well have never lived at all, based upon many of the comments. Far too many Catholics are not only frantic about being “politically correct” at the expense of being truly Christian, but it seems they want a completely smooth frictionless interface with the greater American society, which today is unfortunately anything but Christian. The greater society is all about living their lives doing whatever seems right to them at that moment (see the later chapters of Judges), living as though Almighty God and Jesus Christ do not exist, and letting everything slide.
    Martin Luther King was certainly a great man and a prophet; he also was countercultural and had a lot of enemies. Most of the comments I have seen “dissing” him appear to come from unregenerate white racists who would prefer to pigeonhole and dismiss him. ‘
    Living here on the South Side of Chicago, we still have mainly “all white” South Side Irish Catholic churches, and the blacks are still hypersegregated. I don’t think very much has changed since the late 1960’s at all. That’s not Martin Luther King’s fault; that is everyone else’s fault.