Pope Francis has praised the Knights of Columbus for its charity, especially on behalf of persecuted Christians and for defending and promoting the sanctity of marriage and the dignity and beauty of family life. The pope’s sentiments are expressed in a letter of greeting to the Knights’ 135th international convention, whose theme, “Convinced of God’s Love and Power,” is described as “a missionary one,” revealing “enthusiasm for evangelization.”
Pope Francis expressed his “gratitude for the commitment of the Knights to supporting our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East” and commended the Knights of Columbus Refugee Relief Fund as “an eloquent sign of your order’s firm commitment to solidarity and communion with our fellow Christians.” The fund has raised $13 million in aid primarily for those suffering persecution in Iraq, Syria, and the surrounding region.
The letter asks the Knights to combat injustice and the growth of a global culture of indifference “in fidelity to the vision of the Servant of God Father Michael McGivney,” and to do so in “their families, their parishes, and their local councils.” The letter notes that Father McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus “as a fraternal and charitable union of Catholic laymen, workers, husbands, and fathers.” The letter also points out that Pope Francis “is especially appreciative of the unremitting efforts of the Knights of Columbus to defend and promote the sanctity of marriage and the dignity and beauty of family life.” It is in the family, says the letter, “that we come to see that the larger world is also our home, in which we are called to live together, to learn closeness, care and respect for others, and to value the God-given gifts that each of us has to offer for the good of all.”
The pope’s message was conveyed in a letter from Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin. Nearly 100 bishops, including almost a dozen cardinals, were present along with more than 2000 attendees at the convention as the letter was read at the opening business session on Tuesday, August 1st. Founded in 1882 by Father McGivney in New Haven, CT, the Knights of Columbus has grown to nearly 2 million members with charity as its primary mission. Last year, Knights donated $177.5 million and more than 75 million hours of service to charitable causes.