Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C. praised the Knights of Columbus over the group's recent purchase of the John Paul II Cultural Center, which will become a shrine and museum honoring the legacy of the late pontiff.
“I see this as the beginning of something extraordinary for the Church in America – north, central and south,” he told CNA on Aug. 3.
“The knights envision this becoming a national center for the New Evangelization.”
Supreme Knight Anderson said on Aug. 2 within the next year, the order will work closely with Cardinal Wuerl and Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit, Michigan to establish a national center, permanent museum and Shrine of Blessed John Paul II in Washington, D.C.
Anderson made the announcement at the Knights of Columbus' 129th annual convention, this year held in downtown Denver from Aug. 2-4.
The organization plans for the center to “be a place where English, Spanish and French-speaking pilgrims from throughout North America will encounter the mission and legacy of one of history's greatest popes,” he said.
The John Paul II Center – which was the initiative of now-retired Archbishop of Detroit Cardinal Adam Maida – has been beset by numerous financial difficulties over the years and borrowed heavily from the Archdiocese of Detroit.
Recently, the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist based in Ann Arbor, Michigan made a bid for the center but withdrew in March due to lack of funding.
Cardinal Wuerl told CNA that the new development shows a “continuity in that program that was begun so many years ago by Cardinal Maida.”
On the witness to the faith that the new shrine will provide in the Archdiocese of Washington, the cardinal noted that the “first role of the Church is always to teach.”
“We will be doing our best as we continue in this whole effort of the New Evangelization to make people aware of the wonder of the Gospel,” he said, “and to make them aware of it at a level where they'll have confidence to live it out in our culture and society – the world in which we live.”