Villa Richardson Rome, Italy July 3, 2019
Your Eminences, Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, and friends – good evening and welcome to Villa Richardson!
I’d like to thank our many generous sponsors who make this evening possible. I’d also like to thank my team at the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See for organizing this wonderful celebration.
I am also delighted to welcome our esteemed Senator from Missouri – Senator Roy Blunt and his wife, Abby. Thank you for joining us!
We are gathered this evening to commemorate the 243rd birthday of the United States of America!
Independence Day is a time for celebration. The history of the United States is the story of freedom. A freedom that is not taken for granted, but preserved by each generation.
Our Founding Fathers, like many of us here, came from different backgrounds and experiences. Yet they were united by a shared belief: That we are all created equal, and endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
On July 4th, 1776, these truths were enshrined in our Declaration of Independence. And over the centuries the values of liberty and justice have been emulated by democracies around the world.
Unfortunately, millions of people today are still deprived of freedom and prosperity. The United States has endeavored to respond to this great challenge through our collaboration with the Holy See.
When President Ronald Reagan and Saint John Paul II established official diplomatic relations in 1984, they understood that, together, the United States and the Holy See would be a world-wide force for good.
For 35 years, the United States and the Holy See have shared a deep and enduring commitment to advancing freedom and justice around the world.
Our 35th anniversary year has been an exciting one. We’ve convened symposiums on religious freedom and artificial intelligence; recognized and celebrated women religious who serve on the front lines; provided grants to support migrants and refugees; and highlighted American contributions to sacred music and art.
In the coming weeks and months, we will continue to celebrate this milestone.
I am honored that His Excellency Archbishop Gallagher will travel this month to Washington D.C. for the 2019 Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, hosted by Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.
We are grateful to Archbishop Gallagher for his participation in this Ministerial, which will reaffirm our shared dedication to advancing and defending religious freedom around the world.
I am also delighted to announce that on October 2nd, the United States and the Holy See will partner on a symposium highlighting the importance of faith-based organizations.
As these examples illustrate, America’s relationship with the Holy See is as strong and essential as ever.
Working together with the Holy See, we will continue to promote peace, freedom, and human dignity around the world.
And now, please raise your glass and join me in a toast to America’s 243rd birthday, and to the 35th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the United States and the Holy See. Salute!
Thank you. May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America!