.- As he opened the Knights of Columbus’ annual convention on Tuesday morning, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Archbishop of Québec, called on the fraternal organization to react to the increasing secularization of society by more strongly promoting “a culture of life and a civilization of love.”
Two thousand five hundred delegates and their families joined Cardinal Ouellet to celebrate the opening Mass of the Knights of Columbus convention in Québec City, Canada with some 80 bishops from around the world.
Cardinal Ouellet began his homily by welcoming the congregation to “the city of Champlain and Laval, a city of explorers and saints, the cradle of Evangelization in North America, a Eucharistic city which has hosted some weeks ago the 49th International Eucharistic Congress.”
In their midst, the cardinal informed the congregation, was a work of art meant evoke the arks of the Old Testament, which traveled throughout Canada in preparation for the International Eucharistic Congress.
“The presence of the Ark of the New Covenant in our midst symbolizes the renewed Eucharistic commitment we are invited to promote in the life of the Church. The great success of the Congress was due to the prayer and involvement of many actors and benefactors, among which -- I tell you sincerely -- the Knights of Columbus were the most committed organization at all levels.”
Cardinal Ouellet then turned to the challenge being witnesses to the Catholics faith in a society that is becoming increasingly dominated by a culture of death.
“Against violence, hatred, addictions, despair,” the Primate of Canada said, “the love stemming from the Eucharist is able to foster hope, reconciliation and peace.”
Examples of this loving witness can be found in the examples of Jean Vanier, Nicolas Buttet, Marguerite Barankitse and Bl. Father Frederic Janssoone for inspiration to live out this love, he added.
The Knights are called to play a unique part in this mission, Cardinal Ouellet pointed out. “As an international Catholic Fraternity, the Knights of Columbus have a special role to play in witnessing the love of Christ in today’s world under the wise leadership of Pope Benedict the XVI.”
This witness is not always popular, he said, pointing to the encyclical Humanae Vitae, which “despite the cultural opposition to this Church teaching, we are called to revisit this document and to realize how prophetic it was and still is.”
Giving this witness requires Catholics to grow “in holiness on the personal level and to be present as a social body on the public scene, particularly by promoting the values of the family, among which the sacredness of human life from the moment of conception to the last breath of natural death.”
Cardinal Ouellet admitted that, “It is not easy to embody those values in today’s context, especially in Canada where the culture of death is making further steps of domination by rewarding publicly an activist of abortion,” he said, referring to the recent granting of Canada’s highest honor, the Order of Canada, to Henry Morgentaler.
In times such as these, Catholics must “wake up and to hear the word of the Lord: ‘Do not be afraid’ when the storm hits the boat, ‘come to me’ and ‘hold firm my hand,’ the hand of the Church.”
When we hear of sad events in the world, Cardinal Ouellet encouraged the congregation, don’t be of “‘little faith’ but of a new faith commitment to hold firmly the Church teaching on human life and love and to engage with courage the cultural challenges by promoting more strongly a culture of life and a civilization of love.”