My Dear Parishioners,
This Wednesday we celebrate our Independence as a nation. It is a good time to thank God for the freedoms and blessings we enjoy as citizens of this great country. Happy Fourth of July! We have a tendency to think that freedom means we can do whatever we want, but freedom means much more than that. Freedom first of all presupposes free will and this is a gift from God. With this gift comes great responsibility. As human beings blessed by God with free will we are to respond to His great love by loving Him and others. It is truly an honor and a privilege that God wants us to freely choose Him. Of course the fact that we are free does not guarantee that we will make the right choice, only that we can choose. As we celebrate all the wonderful freedoms that this country affords us, we recognize that our greatest freedom and most important one is to choose for God.
Archbishop Chaput has asked that the following letter be published this weekend in advance of the Campaign for Human Development.
May God Bless you,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I write today to invite your continued generosity in support of the annual collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), which for nearly a half century has been a concrete expression of the Church’s genuine concern for the poor, many of whom live in our own communities.
In our country today, amid the plenitude of blessings most of us enjoy, there are tragically still more than 46 million people living in poverty. A third of that number are children – in fact, one in five children in the United States lives below the poverty line. Being a child in a low-income or poor family is not their choice, nor a matter of pure chance. Their family circumstances are often due to the lack of good educational or employment opportunities that would yield a living wage, sometimes compounded by racial discrimination, violence, drug abuse, and other social problems. Together, these challenges form a vicious cycle of systemic poverty that prevents future generations from realizing their God-given promise.
Our Holy Father’s thoughts are never far from the plight of the poor, or those “living on the margins of society.” What that means is that they are too often left out or left behind, invisible to the mainstream of society, unless we heed the Gospel mandate to “have eyes to see and ears to hear” the cry of the poor. In declaring the first World Day of the Poor last November, Pope Francis drew his theme from the First Letter of John, exhorting us to “love not with words but with deeds,” (3:16). Francis contrasts “the empty words so frequently on our lips and the concrete deeds against which we are called to measure ourselves,” and reminds us, “Love has no alibi.”
The poor do not want to remain so, nor pass that sad legacy on to their children. They want to make their own meaningful contributions to society, but that requires the opportunity to access resources to realize their goals and dreams. The Catholic community is called to solidarity with their efforts to achieve living conditions worthy of their inherent dignity as human beings. CCHD has been an effective means of making that possible, by funding community organizations working with and among those living on the margins to promote their active participation in efforts that address the root causes of their poverty.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sponsors an annual collection in support of the Church’s firm commitment to reduce poverty in our midst. In the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the CCHD collection will take place at masses on the weekend of July 7-8. Your contribution to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development can help your neighbors near and far to break the cycle of poverty and achieve a brighter future for themselves, their families, and their communities. Our Holy Father reminds us, “The poor are not a problem; they are a resource from which to draw as we strive to accept and practice in our lives the essence of the Gospel.” I urge your support and ask God’s blessing upon you for your generous response to this year’s appeal.
Gratefully and with best wishes in Jesus Christ,
+Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.