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This July 4th Weekend: Pledge Allegiance to One Another

The following message was sent to our Catholic Charities network for the 4th of July weekend.

Capitol of the United States
Capitol of the United States

Allow me a word of appreciation and thanks for all you do to make our world a better place – each, in your own way, as trustee, staff, volunteer, donor, or friend. 

I attach my own picture of the Capitol of the United States from the visit I made two days ago with Catholic Charities people from throughout NYS to visit with members of Congress and convey to them the need to enact policies and budgets that give due consideration to the needs of the poor and vulnerable.  Included among our discussions were Catholic Charities’ wide areas of concern: children and youth, those with addictions, the hungry and families needing affordable places to live, immigrants who are feeling particularly anxious and those dealing with emotional and physical challenges.

In light of this visit, and as we approach the 4th of July weekend, I am reminded that the title of the Declaration of Independence is both accurate and partially misleading.  It is accurate in that it is a declaration.  And, it is true that it declared the colonies’ independence from England.  Yet, the title can also be misleading because it fails to capture the values embedded in its non-severable concluding paragraph: God, honor, and solidarity:

“And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”

I suggest we could use a renewed focus on this part of our founding declaration – and not only for this 4th of July weekend. I trust I am not being too negative when I suggest that this weekend’s staged fireworks bursts will pale before the relentless bursts of anger, violence, terror, disrespect, indifference, assault, disgrace, etc. that bombard us in this great nation, and throughout our world.  Pick a sector – politics, media, entertainment, religion, business, etc. and on any given day, in one of them, one can find something significantly out of order.

For this reason, the incredible work that you do consistently to make Catholic Charities such a respected part of the fabric of a caring New York is even more important and appreciated.  It has prodded me to repeat over again during Catholic Charities Centennial Year: Catholic Charities values mutually respectful partnerships and eschews divisive partisanship. 

Perhaps we cannot do much to stop neighbors, family, colleagues & politicians from speaking and acting poorly.  But there is much we can do to stop ourselves from following suit.  Might I suggest an assignment this weekend, for each of us: an added prayer for divine providence, and an extra effort to fulfill our pledge of honoring one another.  And maybe if that seems too fancy, let’s, at least, tone down our abrasiveness and try to be a little kinder.  

Thank you again for what you do.  We are all better because of your efforts.


Monsignor Kevin Sullivan

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