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Archbishop Foley Celebrates Diversity,Encourages Religious and Ethnic Liberty

11 May 1996


a.gif (1076 bytes)rchbishop John P. Foley, president of the Pontifical Council on Social Communications at the Vatican, today emphasized the importance of religious liberty and stressed embracing the variety of cultures in the melting pot that is the United States.

In a commencement address at The Catholic University of America today, Foley said that "E pluribus unum reflects the fact that our nation is both a melting pot and a mosaic - a commingling and a co-existence of many cultures, many ethnic groups, many races, and many religions: a political unity binding together a multi-form diversity.

"As an American, I may be prejudiced, but I see in the United States - with all of its admitted faults - the most successful example in the world of a nation made up of many disparate elements and yet living in peace and prosperity."

Some 1,480 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees were conferred at the Catholic University commencement, held outdoors on the east steps of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, adjacent to the campus.

Foley, who is a former editor of The Catholic Standard and Times in Philadelphia, also received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. He said "a major reason for the fundamental social harmony in the midst of such mind-boggling diversity is the other motto: 'One Nation Under God.' The United States of America is one of the most religious nations on earth with the vast majority of its citizens professing belief in God and in a divinely revealed moral law. . . . Without that fundamental religious conviction on the part of most of our people, I am not sure that our social compact would work."

A second honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree was awarded to Catholic University alumnus Fred J. Maroon of Washington, D.C. He is a renowned photographer who has published 11 books and whose work has been on exhibit in museums and galleries around the world. Maroon graduated from Catholic University in 1950 with a degree in architecture.

Catholic University is the nation's only university established by the U.S. Catholic bishops and is the national university of the Catholic Church. Founded in 1887 as a graduate and research institution, the university began offering undergraduate programs in 1904. About 6,200 graduate and undergraduate students are enrolled in 10 schools.

Contact: Annamarie DeCarlo

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Revised: 27 October 1997

All contents copyright 1997.
The Catholic University of America,
Office of Public Affairs.