Archbishop John Nienstedt attended the 22nd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Breakfast Jan. 16 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The Catholic Spirit conducted a short question-and-answer interview with him before the event.
Has the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. inspired you in any way?
I was in seminary college during the Civil Rights movement and I looked upon Dr. King as a courageous leader of the African-American people in their quest to end racism and discrimination in this nation. Dr. King was a religious minister who was not afraid to bring the truths of faith into the public square. I was terribly inspired when listening to him speak. He was indeed a great orator.
I hope I have had in my own ministry, the courage to face up to the challenges that face our society, especially against the threats to marriage, family life and the dignity of human life.
How important is our local black Catholic community to the life and mission of the church?
To me, the presence and participation of the black Catholic community is of inestimable value. I am so grateful to have in this archdiocese the vital and dynamic involvement of black Catholics in the mission of the church. As you know, their influence is growing with the arrival of new immigrants from various countries in Africa. They feel close to the church and are highly engaged in the activities of their parishes.
How can Catholics best carry on the civil rights legacy advanced by Rev. King?
Catholics can best carry on the legacy of Dr. King by being well formed in the knowledge of their faith and being willing to stand up for the dignity of each human person from conception until natural death.