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Speaking at the opening session of the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus in Washington, DC, Aug. 5, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson spoke of a new wave of anti-Catholicism in the United States. He held up the filibustering of the nomination of Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor as the latest manifestation of this trend.
Pryor’s pro-life views, faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church, seem to be an insurmountable obstacle for some members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Anderson sent a letter in support of Pryor to Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the committee. In that letter, which Anderson read at the Knights’ convention, he said that “A continuation of the trend that critics of Mr. Pryor’s nomination have set in motion will compel American Catholics to face religious bigotry of a kind many of us thought to be extinct in this nation.”
“ It comes perilously close to suggesting that Catholics who faithfully adhere to their Church’s teaching on abortion, and perhaps other public moral issues, are unfit to serve their country in the federal judiciary,” the letter continued.
According to a Catholic News Service report, his remarks received a standing ovation from the representatives of the more than 12,000 councils of the Knights around the nation —totaling over 1.6 million Catholic men.
This type of action — supporting the works and teachings of the Church — is but one example of the many undertakings the Knights are pursuing, both in the charitable and public policy arenas.
Under Anderson’s leadership, the Knights are modernizing their organization, adapting to the needs of an evolving society. For instance, confronted with rising numbers of non-practicing Catholics, the Knights are expanding efforts to reach people who need to understand their faith better. They are also becoming more involved in the political arena, maintaining a faithful Catholic perspective.
Anderson’s and the Knights’ clear understanding of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, calling on the laity to be involved in the world and in Church issues, is refreshing. This is especially true in these times in which some are trying to divide the Church between the hierarchy and the laity or drawing a line between private religious beliefs and public life.
The Knights are living witnesses that the Church is not about power, but about service.