ROME (CNA/EWTN News) — The Fourth of July is an opportunity to reflect on the American founders’ “Christian vision” of the human person and the influence of Spanish missionaries in bringing Christianity to the land, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles said in a call for a New Evangelization.
“Although it was founded by Christians, America has become home to an amazing diversity of cultures, religions and ways of life,” the archbishop wrote in his July 1 column for his archdiocesan newspaper, The Tidings.
“This diversity flourishes precisely because our nation’s founders had a Christian vision of the human person, freedom and truth. It is a basic American belief that men and women are created equal — with God-given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
This vision is part of the legacy of Blessed Junipero Serra and his fellow missionaries, said the archbishop.
Serra, a Franciscan priest who lived from 1713 to 1784, founded the first nine of the 21 California missions. He is buried at Mission San Carlos Borromeo in Carmel, Calif.
Archbishop Gomez, who wrote his column from Rome after receiving the pallium from Pope Benedict XVI, said American Catholics need to see that the July 1 memorial of Blessed Junipero Serra and the Fourth of July “belong together.”
“America’s story starts with those Spanish missionaries. Our national character and identity are deeply marked by the Gospel values they brought to this land,” he said, noting the many places named in Spanish for saints, sacraments and other objects of faith.
“The Mass was being celebrated here years before the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution,” he said, deeming this missionary legacy to be part of the identity of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
“California was among the first outposts for the evangelization of America. California must now become a leader in the New Evangelization of our country,” the archbishop wrote.
Participants in the New Evangelization should bring the signs of God’s love to Los Angeles and to the world, he said.
The archbishop cited Blessed Junipero’s comments that missions will provide this country with “what is most important: the light of the holy Gospel.”
“The light of the Gospel is still what is most important for America. For that, our country needs each one of us to be missionaries,” concluded Archbishop Gomez, who asked Catholics to pray for the moral and spiritual renewal of the United States.