The greetings of several heads of state were read at this afternoon’s opening meeting at the Knights of Columbus convention in Phoenix, including words of appreciation and encouragement from Pope Benedict and President Barack Obama.
In a letter written on behalf of Pope Benedict by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, the Pontiff sent his “warm personal greetings to all in attendance,” as well as “his prayerful good wishes for the occasion.”
In the message, Bertone wrote that the Church is called to work “to renew and transform society by defending those unchanging moral truths inscribed on our hearts by the Creator, discernible to right reason and essential to the building of a just, free and humane society.”
Noting the growing “ethical confusion” in the world, the Pope's message highlighted how the Church’s witness to these truths is even more necessary. “For this reason the Holy Father encourages the praiseworthy efforts of the Knights to promote knowledge of the rich body of the Church’s social teaching, and, in union with the Bishops…to let that teaching shape and direct their personal lives, their institutional decisions and their engagement in the life of society at every level.
He likewise trusts that, as a respected and articulate voice of the Catholic faithful, the Knights of Columbus will continue to defend that teaching through reasoned argument and responsible participation in civic and political life.”
The Holy Father then expressed his gratefulness to the Knights for their commitment “to promoting priestly and religious vocations worldwide.”
Repeating a charge he gave to the U.S. bishops during his 2008 visit, the Holy Father encouraged the Knights to make an effort to assist the youth “to pray and pray well,” because “young people, if they know how to pray, can be trusted to know what to do with God’s call.”
President Obama also sent his “best wishes” to the Knights. “For over a century, the Knights of Columbus have worked to care not only for one another, but also for countless people in need. Your dedicated service reminds us that we all have a role to play in building a better future for each other,” Obama said.
His message continued, “Now is the time to recommit ourselves to service, renew America’s promise, and work together as one people and one Nation. As you gather in Phoenix to pray, celebrate the past year’s accomplishments, and plan for the year ahead, I wish you all the best.”
Greetings from the heads of state of Canada, Mexico, Poland and the Philippines were also read.