Riding the enthusiasm of Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to the United States, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson delivered a rousing speech today in which he challenged his fellow Knights to transform the world through their actions and political decisions.
“Pope Benedict’s visit was an enormous gift to us: millions of Catholics are now more willing to live the Catholic life more actively. But it is up to us to follow through on this opportunity,” said Anderson.
“Let us be co-workers in the renewal of the Church that our great Pope is leading,” he encouraged. Turning to the Pope Benedict XVI, Anderson quoted, ‘The Horizon of love, is truly boundless: it is the whole world!’
“It may seem too ambitious to talk about transforming the world, much less doing so by trying to create a civilization that is very different from the one we now live in. But the earliest Christians did precisely that: they did so by their example, by holding out the possibility of a life that is higher, more beautiful, and above all more authentic than the vulgarity, violence and greed of the ancient pagan world.”
“Gentlemen, we have the power—given to us by the Holy Spirit—to transform the world in the same way,” the head of the Knights of Columbus exhorted in his annual report.
The Knights have been very active in trying to positively impact the culture in 2007, according to Carl Anderson. In the past year, the men’s fraternal organization has raised more than $144.9 million for charity and volunteered 68 million hours to churches, neighborhoods and communities.
In addition, the group has been very active in supporting the Church at the financial level and in providing solidarity to fellow members.
As one example, Anderson related that he and Bishop William Lori were able to present Pope Benedict with a gift of $1.6 million for his personal charitable organizations.
On the solidarity front, Carl Anderson highlighted the fact that since 1961, Knights from Cuba had been unable to attend the annual convention because of the political situation on the island nation. This year, however, marks the first time in 58 years that delegates from Cuba were able to attend the meeting, he announced, as the Knights from Camaguey, Cuba were received with a standing ovation.
However, the work of the Knights must go beyond the present efforts, Anderson said as he assessed the current political and social climate.
Saying that the opposition to abortion on demand is not going away but getting stronger every year, the Knight’s leader pledged that the group will “never waver in the cause to ensure legal protection for every human being, from the moment of conception to natural death.”
Anderson touched on the U.S. presidential election as well, saying that the question, ‘How should Catholics exercise their responsibilities as citizens?’ must be answered by people working to build a culture of life through a “new politics.”
“Today we constantly hear about change. We must remember that real change means building a culture of life, and real change means building a civilization of love, and that means truly transforming our politics. In this process of change, dealing with the abortion issue is fundamental,” said Anderson.
Noting that the Knights are a non-partisan organization, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson emphasized that there are “certain moral issues that affect our most fundamental values as Catholics and as citizens.”
“This is especially important since Catholics confront a moral dilemma when deciding how to vote: Can we support a candidate who may be attractive for many reasons but who supports abortion? Some partisan advocates have sought to excuse support for pro-abortion candidates through a complex balancing act. They claim that other issues are important enough to set off a candidate’s support for abortion.”
This type of reasoning is unacceptable for Catholics, Anderson stressed, as he warned that, “We will never succeed in building a culture of life if we continue to vote for politicians who support a culture of death. … It’s time we stop accommodating pro-abortion politicians, and it’s time we start demanding that they accommodate us.”
The head of the Knights also said that the fraternal organization “must be in the forefront of efforts to defend the sanctuary of human life—the institution of marriage.” The work to support marriage and the family “does not end with legislation and referenda,” the Supreme Knight underlined.
Thus far, the Knights of Columbus have sponsored a conference for men on being good husbands and fathers with the Archdiocese of Boston, and will host others in Chicago and Houston this coming Fall. The organization’s new “Fathers for Good” initiative, which was launched today, is another way that the Knights are supporting marriage and the family.
Supreme Knight Carl Anderson closed his speech by saying that building the civilization of love will not be easy, but “it is our mission, our vocation, our solemn duty.”