This weekend we are celebrating our Independence as a Nation. We are celebrating the freedoms that we have come to enjoy as the nation of the United States of America.
As American Catholics, we are Catholics and we are Americans. We are proud to be both, grateful for the gift of faith which is ours and grateful for the gift of liberty which is ours as American citizens. To be Catholic and American should mean not having to choose one over the other.
The teaching of our Catholic faith, obliges us to work together with fellow citizens for the common good of all who live in this land. That is the vision of our founding and our Constitution, which guarantees citizens of all religious faiths the right to contribute to our common life together.
In 1887, when the archbishop of Baltimore, James Gibbons, became the second American cardinal, he defended the American heritage of religious liberty during his visit to Rome. From well before Cardinal Gibbons, Catholics in America have been advocates for religious liberty, and the teaching of the second Vatican Council on religious liberty was influenced by the American experience.
As we celebrate this weekend, we also pause to pray that God may continue to Bless America and the freedoms we have come to enjoy.