Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration

 January 14, 2018
My name is Mary Ellen Quinn and I’m here representing Pax Christi Maine, the Catholic Peace & Justice Movement. Pax Christi is an international movement with membership across the globe. The four priorities of Pax Christi are: the spirituality of nonviolence & peacemaking; disarmament & demilitarization; economic & interracial justice; human rights & global restoration. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is for me, a powerful teacher of nonviolence in action, a courageous follower of Jesus, a social justice warrior wielding active nonviolence as his
instrument…an instrument of love and reconciliation.
Rev. King challenges us to be a force for change. His urgent call rings out with as much relevance today as it did over 50 years ago. It is a call for interracial justice, a call to be sisters
and brothers all, a call for equality, a call to love one another as God loves us. Racism has been called a radical evil, America’s original sin, a soul sickness. It is indeed a spiritual illness. Like endless war, racism is deeply embedded in the fabric of who we are in this country. It is part of our culture – pervasive and resilient, often blatant and obvious; frequently insidious and unconscious – always with the power to wound, to divide and to dehumanize. The national office of Pax Christi USA in D.C. has a vibrant anti-racism program which addresses personal, institutional and systemic racism. In Maine, Pax Christi has a membership that lacks racial diversity, the great majority of our members are Caucasian. Being white and a Christian in this culture demands of us a moral accountability. We cannot merely believe racism is wrong or believe that we are not racist because we benefit daily from being white in this society. Pax Christi members have worked to address racism, first and foremost, by examining our own biases and prejudices. We work to raise awareness related to ‘white privilege’. The willingness to self- examine and discover how we contribute to the pervasive culture of racism is an important step in healing wounds. Another effort undertaken has been to educate ourselves about the role of the Catholic Church. In the slaughter of Native peoples through the Doctrine of Discovery. Examining our complicity in the horrendous policies and practices that led to Native genocide and the theft of their lands compelled Pax Christi to renounce the doctrine and its principles publicly. As part of Campaign Nonviolence, Pax Christi, along with the Peace & Justice Center and over 35 local organizations, annually co-sponsors End Violence Together, a public action intended to
bring attention to the inter-relationship of all issues of violence and oppression. Being able to connect the dots is critical to finding nonviolent solutions and building a culture of peace and
nonviolence. Because racism is a spiritual illness, I believe strongly that our faith communities have a significant role to play. We must continue to come together to speak out, to oppose poverty, war, domestic violence, gun violence, militarism, hatred …. most of which have racism at their

As Rev. King did, we must ensure that the message in our spiritual communities, churches, mosques and synagogues is that racism and all forms of violence are directly opposed to the
most basic tenant of all faith traditions, that we are all created in the image and likeness of God and are called to love our neighbor as God loves us. As my niece would say, this is not merely a suggestion but a mandate! Each of us as individuals and all of us as a collective can take steps to recover from the ‘soul sickness’ of racism. A final word from Rev. King, “Somebody must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe. And you do that by love.”
Thank You.