In an exclusive interview with CNA, Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson explained that the priorities of the Knights of Columbus include defending marriage and the family as well as spreading the Gospel message to a culture that has rejected it. Anderson said that the strength of the fraternal organization comes from its values of charity, unity and fraternity, along with the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Reflecting on the fact that he consecrated his responsibilities as Supreme Knight to Our Lady of Guadalupe 10 years ago, and renewed that consecration during the Knights of Columbus Convention on Wednesday, Anderson told CNA that his inspiration was Pope John Paul II’s document on the Church in the Western Hemisphere, “Ecclesia in America.”
“It seemed to me the right time to dedicate the Knights of Columbus, which has always had a very strong devotion to Our Lady, to Our Lady under her title, Our Lady of Guadalupe,” he said. He also acknowledged the importance of expressing "the message that she brings ... in terms of pro-life, in terms of the family, and in terms of the poor and her general message of unity.” Our Lady of Guadalupe is the Patroness of the Americas and of the Philippines, places where the Knights have been in existence for over a century.
Anderson added that “for myself personally, there have just been many times where there might not be dramatic events but time after time, things just seem to go a little bit better or big problems seem to be avoided. I think it’s a result of her watching over the Knights of Columbus.”
The Supreme Knight also told CNA that the biggest challenge “in our particular culture” is the challenge of “secularization and even, at times, a very militant secularization.” Anderson noted that both Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul have dedicated a great deal of attention to the new evangelization. “We’re not talking about the Gospel in countries which have never heard it before,” he explained. “We’re now witnessing to the Gospel in societies which have had an experience of Christianity and now people are rejecting it.” The solution, he proposed, relies on the laity, and in that sense, on the Knights of Columbus.
Reflecting on the words of the Holy Fathers, the solution is to live an authentic Christian witness, the Supreme Knight declared. “The laity play a decisive role in that, because it is the laity that is called in their state of life, in their marriages, in their families, in their work places, in their social places, in their political places, to live an authentic Christian witness.” And thus, the Knights, with their principles of charity, unity, and fraternity, as well as with the theme of this year’s Supreme Convention, “I am my brother’s keeper,” are capable of doing this.
Lastly, Anderson related to CNA the importance of defending marriage, which he said is an anthropological issue. The problem, he asserted, is that the understanding of marriage “has been lost by many, many people, even Christians, who visualize, who understand the body, marriage, commitment, family, love, sacrifice, gift in secular terms, not Christian terms.” To clarify this misunderstanding, he said that the Knights will keep the defense of marriage a priority in the future by continuing to support the U.S. Bishops Committee on the Defense of Marriage, as well as the Knights’ “Family of the Month” and “Family of the Year” programs.
Anderson also noted that the Knights will continue providing informational materials on the vocation of marriage and the vocation to family life to their members.