I have received a few emails asking me (again, this year) if it is appropriate to celebrate Mass (again, this year) in honor of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.Notes
I look forward to the day that Masses are arranged by the same people for the intention of the late President Ronald Regan. how about Susan B. Anthony?
Of course that isn’t going to happen, is it.
Holy Church does not permit Masses in honor of a dead person who isn’t a saint or blessed with an cult approved by Holy Catholic Church. It is not permitted to celebrate Mass on honor of a person who has no official cult. As a matter of fact most blesseds can’t even be honored at the altar unless there is permission given for that locale or institute.
On the other hand, I think it is entirely appropriate to celebrate Mass to pray for the repose of the soul of someone who is dead. Surely Dr. King was a sinner, just as well are all sinners. Prayer for the dead is a work of mercy. We should pray relentlessly for the dead.
I suppose the Mass formulary they choose for such an occasion could reflect something of important social interests, such as the defense of human life. The late Dr. King would have appreciated that, I believe, given the fact that Planned Parenthood aimed at abortion of as many black children as possible.1
Masses for a dead person mustn’t be reduced to a “celebration of someone’s life”. That is not what Catholics do. During Mass we pray that God will be merciful to them.
- Dr. King’s legacy on reproductive issues appears to be mixed. He may not have favored abortion, but was reportedly honored by Planned Parenthood with its Margaret Sanger Award, who, ironically, promoted eugenics via abortion among the black population. See "Planned Parenthood for blacks: 'humane' alternative to death camps" (Musings, September 4, 2010). -- Site Editor [back]