Immigrants And Refugees
Public Statement

Building a Society that is More Just and Compassionate – A Juneteenth Message from Monsignor Kevin Sullivan

Juneteenth, once more, provides an opportunity to reflect upon the need to continually advance justice and equality.  This federal holiday reminds us that our nation and its institutions, including Catholic ones, have not infrequently perpetuated policies and practices of inequality.

It is worth noting the date of action Juneteenth celebrates, Major General Gordon Granger’s June 19, 1865, order implementing the emancipation of slaves in Texas is more than 2 years after Lincoln’s January 1, 1863, Emancipation Proclamation.  This is a sobering reminder that words about freedom and equality are not self-implementing but need ongoing vigilance. 

Our Catholic Charities agencies confront inequities in our society daily.  Our agencies assist individuals and families facing crushing obstacles to live in dignity and meet basic needs.  

Catholic Charities must continually reflect upon limitations and injustices, subtle or overt, in our own operations and in the world around us.  We cannot fail to do our part to move the arc of history further toward justice.  With humility, we must admit our forward steps are halting, partial and always insufficient.

In the current politicized environment, we maintain our focus on people not ideology.  In this divisive era, caution is called for in ascribing motives to others and respect and civility is needed as we raise our efforts to foster equality and justice.

For us it is simple: every person is made in the image and likeness of God, worthy of dignity and respect.  Dignity and respect require basic human rights be able to be exercised and that basic human needs be met.  Much of Catholic Charities’ work focuses on meeting basics such as food, shelter and work.  Catholic values affirm these, and others, as basic and universal, and rejects policies and actions that discriminate in the exercise of these rights and meeting these needs.   

Our Catholic Charities mission includes “building a society that is more just and compassionate.”  To achieve this, human actions are necessary, but insufficient.  God’s grace and accompaniment must be an essential part.  Allow me the end with Psalms 46:

Blessed is he whose hope is in the Lord, his God,
The Maker of Heaven and Earth
He grants justice to the oppressed
and gives bread to the hungry.
The Lord releases prisoners
and opens the eyes of those who cannot see.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;

The Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the stranger
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but He blocks the way of the wicked.
The Lord will reign forever.

(Psalm 46, excerpted)