Every day we should thank God for the blessings of liberty, freedom, and democracy. These are the characteristics of the American experience on full display today in our nation’s capital with the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States, Joseph R. Biden, Jr. I join with my brother bishops in congratulating him on his election and inauguration. An inauguration is a beginning. That really means that the work of all of us has just begun as together we build our nation.
As Catholics and Americans, we are called to follow Jesus by sharing his love and mercy as people of kindness and virtue, treating each other with the respect and dignity promised to us all. With a renewed spirit of patriotism that has made our country a source of hope for others in our world, we need to seek ways to appreciate those around us, particularly people in our lives who hold different views than our own. Listen to their voices and try to understand what unique experiences in their own lives brought them to the place in life they are today. It is our only way forward. We are one nation under God, where we love our brothers and sisters, defend the sanctity of human life, and celebrate the freedom of religion. We are grateful we are able to take part in such an important conversation.
Today will be both a historic moment and one of special pride for many. Kamala D. Harris will become our first woman vice president, and Mr. Biden will join the late President John F. Kennedy as the second person to lead our nation who professes the Catholic faith. Sixty years ago this week, Cardinal Richard J. Cushing, at the time the Archbishop of Boston, delivered the invocation at President Kennedy’s inauguration. His words are as fitting for our country today as they were in 1961, and I encourage you to join me in reflecting upon them today. In part, he said:
“We ask Thee, Almighty God, to enlighten us. That we may know, as Americans, our political, social, and humanitarian responsibilities, and that we may know, as children of God, our responsibilities to the Father of all mankind. Enlighten us that we may know how to put this principle of responsibility into daily practice, both in ideal and action, in these troubled but hopeful times.”