Statement by Bishop Michael F. Burbidge on Juneteenth observance

Today the nation celebrates Juneteenth, a federal holiday commemorating the anniversary of the 1865 order, issued two months after the Civil War ended, that proclaimed the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in Texas. This date marks another milestone in the demolition of an evil institution that held men, women and children in this country in bondage.

Venerable Augustus Tolton, a former slave himself, experienced prejudice and bigotry in his quest to become a priest 140 years ago. His powerful and committed witness of faith is a reminder of what is at the heart of what we believe as Christians: the fundamental truth that all persons should be treated with the inherent dignity with which they were created.   

As we reflect on how far we have come as a nation since slavery ended, may we pray both as Catholics and Americans that we will continue to work together to heal racial division and advance the cause of justice and freedom for all.