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The Witness of Fraternal Communion


by Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson

Through our practice of charity and fraternity, we are called to bring the joy of the Gospel to others

Carl A. Anderson

IN MY COLUMN last month, I discussed some of the ideas I proposed in my keynote address to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sponsored Convocation of Catholic Leaders. I would like to follow up in this column with some additional thoughts.

In July, approximately 3,000 Catholic leaders from organizations and dioceses around the country met on the topic of “The Joy of the Gospel in America.” The convocation was inspired by the apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis titled Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel).

There were many impressive aspects of the convocation. But to me, one of the most important was the evidence that the Knights of Columbus in every diocese throughout the country is already bringing the “joy of the Gospel” to millions of our fellow Catholics and to those outside our Church through our works of charity.

In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis calls Catholics to be “an evangelizing community” that is “filled with joy” (24), a community that is “permanently in a state of mission” (25), and a community that practices a “fraternal communion and missionary fruitfulness” (89).

We don’t often think of our local councils in precisely these terms. But if we do, we can see how our councils meet these criteria in so many different ways.

Elsewhere in Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis urges Catholics to “live in fraternity” (91) and to share “a fraternal love capable of seeing the sacred grandeur of our neighbor, of finding God in every human being” (92).

He writes: “I especially ask Christians in communities throughout the world to offer a radiant and attractive witness of fraternal communion. Let everyone admire how you care for one another, and how you encourage and accompany one another” (99).

Last month, I wrote that this is a special responsibility for every Knights of Columbus council throughout the world.

It is a special responsibility in two ways.

First, the pope’s words are a good way for us to measure how our councils are living up to our principles of charity, unity and fraternity. We should ask ourselves just how our councils offer “a radiant and attractive witness of fraternal communion” and how we care for each other as brother Knights and for our families. Many of our councils offer such a witness, but for others there may be room for improvement. In any event, every Knight should take these words of Pope Francis to heart as he approaches the work of his local council.

Second, we must make a greater effort to demonstrate within our parishes how the Knights of Columbus offers an authentic model of fraternal communion. We can offer a witness of fraternity to show how all of us as Catholics can do a better job of caring for one another and how we can encourage and accompany one another in our parishes.

It might be too much to say that Knights of Columbus are experts in building fraternal communities, but for more than 135 years, Knights have experienced a fraternal communion based upon the principles of charity, unity and fraternity.

The insights of Evangelii Gaudium can help us live those principles as brother Knights in a more profound and authentic way.

The convocation was a historic opportunity given to us by our bishops to respond to the pope’s call for “a new chapter of evangelization.” But its lasting importance will only be realized if enough Catholics respond to this opportunity and write a new page in the history of Catholicism.

Let each of us do our part in the days ahead.

Vivat Jesus!