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‘An Ethics of Fraternity’


by Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson

The continued success of our Order as both a business and a fraternal society is grounded in our Catholic mission

Carl A. Anderson

LAST MONTH, I addressed more than 800 of our dedicated Knights of Columbus insurance agents about our mission to protect the financial future of our brother Knights’ families. Now, I would like to share with you excerpts of those remarks.

Pope Francis has challenged Catholics to take up what he calls “an ethics of fraternity” to help transform society. This is also the vision of Father Michael McGivney — and this is what we have been about for more than 135 years.

We should remember that in Father McGivney’s day there were already insurance companies in Connecticut. He could have easily referred his parishioners to one of these companies. But he didn’t.

Instead, Father McGivney wanted something different. He wanted something distinctly Catholic. He wanted a new Catholic fraternity that would transform the practical men of his day into a committed brotherhood of men capable of helping each other.

That is what he founded, and that is what we continue today.

At the Knights of Columbus, we have developed a strong, successful business model based upon “an ethics of fraternity.” It is what we mean when we say “insurance by brother Knights for brother Knights.”

You and I are engaged in a noble experiment. It is an experiment to demonstrate that a business enterprise fully committed to Catholic teaching and principles can enter into the free market and successfully compete among industry leaders.

We are a business enterprise — today counted among the Fortune 1000 — that seeks in a public way to operate according to Catholic values. We do this in the way we invest, in the products we offer, in the dividend philosophy we support and in the charity our earnings make possible.

We believe a values-based, ethical strategy in both marketing and investments is the best way to achieve sustainability and to remain competitive in a free-market economy.

This is the brand represented by a Knights of Columbus agent — a brand committed to the ethics of a Catholic fraternity — when he sits across the kitchen table from a brother Knight and helps him decide how best to safeguard the future of his family.

In fact, it is better to say that he doesn’t just represent the brand of the Knights of Columbus — he is the brand. There is no substitute for a K of C agent’s professionalism, commitment, concern, and yes, his conscience.

I am so very proud that in the history of the Knights of Columbus we have had thousands of such committed agents.

The day I was elected supreme knight, I told our Board of Directors that we have a moral obligation to offer membership in the Knights of Columbus to every eligible Catholic man.

We have a similar obligation to offer the protection of our great Knights of Columbus insurance program to every eligible Catholic man and his family. Our new online membership initiative makes this goal a practical possibility.

I encourage you to take full advantage of this opportunity. I also ask you to encourage these new members to become active brother Knights, to join a local council and help us in our mission of fraternity and charity.

I hope in the coming months we will see thousands of new members join through this online initiative.

In many ways, we have just completed the best fraternal year in the history of the Knights of Columbus — membership is up, the dollars we have given to charity are up and the amount of hours we have volunteered is up.

On the business side, we have reached new heights of insurance in force and assets under management. We were again honored as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute. And Standard & Poor’s ranked us as one of the six most financially strong insurance companies in North America.

Each day that I walk into my office as supreme knight, I am confident that for the Knights of Columbus the best is yet to come. Together we will make that a reality.

Vivat Jesus!