Pope says MLK’s message of non-violent protest timely now

US & World

FILE – In this March 12, 2018 file photo, youngest child of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. Bernice King is welcomed by Pope Francis on the occasion of their private audience at the Vatican. Francis sent a message of prayer Monday to King’s daughter, the Rev. Bernice King, with whom the pontiff met in 2018. He called for unity, not division and extinguishing hatred and “not holding onto it.” (L’Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)

ROME (AP) — Pope Francis is honoring civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the commemoration of his birthday, saying his message of equality through peaceful means remains more timely than ever.

Francis sent a message of prayer Monday to King’s daughter, the Rev. Bernice King, with whom the pontiff met in 2018.

He called for unity, not division and extinguishing hatred and “not holding onto it.”

The Vatican has long spoken out about racial injustice, and popes dating to Paul VI have voiced support for King’s message of nonviolent protest and the civil rights movement.

Francis also spoke out last year in the aftermath of the protests spurred by the police killing of a Black man, George Floyd.

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