On the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., released the following statement today, April 4:

“We too easily reduce the memory of our nation’s great and good persons to a liturgy of public pieties. These pieties lose force as the years go by. Not so with the legacy of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Generations have grown up since his 1968 assassination that can never fully grasp the measure of his achievements or the scope of the positive changes to society he helped bring about, because they have no experience of the America in which he lived out his ministry.

“He was a man of civility, nonviolence, intelligence, and respect for his opponents; but also a man with a tireless zeal for justice, inspired and directed by his Christian faith. America was made better by his life.

“On this 50th anniversary of his death, Catholics across the Archdiocese of Philadelphia thank God for the extraordinary good he accomplished.”