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Pope Francis says Martin Luther King Jr.'s message of non-violent protest timely now

Vatican King Commemoration
Posted at 4:30 PM, Jan 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-18 17:21:47-05

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 timelier 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.