An Impressive Witness to Hope
9/30/2011Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI was pleased to learn that from 2-4 August 2011, the 129th Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus will be held in Denver, Colorado. He has asked me to convey his warm greetings and good wishes to all in attendance, together with the assurance of his prayers for the fruitfulness of these annual deliberations.
The theme of this year’s Supreme Convention — “So That The World May Know New Hope” — was fittingly inspired by the great prayer for families with which Blessed John Paul II concluded his apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in America. It was precisely so that “the world may know new hope” that the late pontiff tirelessly called upon the lay faithful to work for the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the renewal of society in accordance with its liberating message. Today, before the increasingly evident signs of a growing forgetfulness of God, a rejection of the most basic principles of morality and a breakdown in the very foundations of social life, no committed follower of Christ can fail to heed this urgent summons to work for the rebuilding of our communities in accordance with the enduring values grounded in the natural law, confirmed by the Gospel and enshrined in the Christian vision of life’s true meaning, beauty and purpose.
For this reason, the Holy Father expresses his deep gratitude to the Knights of Columbus for their continuing contribution to responsible public debate about the great ethical issues that will shape the future of our democratic societies. He sees in this valued service to the common good an outstanding example of the lay apostolate, which consists, as the Second Vatican Council teaches, in “building up the Church, sanctifying the world and imbuing it with the Spirit of Christ” (Apostolicam Actuositatem, 16). Such a clear and courageous moral witness is all the more necessary in the light of a proliferation of legislative initiatives that not only undermine such basic institutions of society as marriage and the family but also threaten the fundamental human rights of conscientious objection and religious freedom. As part of its response to these increasingly serious challenges, His Holiness encourages your Order to renew and reinforce its praiseworthy programs of catechesis and of continuing formation in the faith and the principles of Christian morality, so that each Knight can be prepared to offer a reasonable account of his deepest convictions.
In his Encyclical Spe Salvi, the Holy Father recalled that the most effective testimony to Christ is given by men and women whose closeness to the wellsprings of divine love in prayer and in the sacramental life of the Church transforms them and makes them living icons of hope. In this context he thinks especially of the impressive witness to hope given by the Knights of Columbus as they help so many young men to grow to Christian maturity, teaching them to let their lives be shaped by the things that really matter (cf. Phil 1:10) and offering countless quiet examples of the masculine virtues of fidelity, hard work, generosity and self-sacrifice. In the local councils, in parishes and in local communities, the Knights represent a privileged “setting of Christian hope” (cf. Spe Salvi, 32ff.), where the Catholic faith and its deepest values are embodied and passed on through friendship, fraternal charity, volunteerism and good works. His Holiness encourages all of you to reflect with gratitude on this often-hidden, yet very real charism of your Order and to foster it as a significant resource for the renewal of the Church and society at every level.
Finally, the Holy Father expresses his profound satisfaction for the continuing fidelity of the Knights of Columbus to the vision of Father Michael McGivney, who desired that the Order should be the embodiment of Christian charity through its manifold works of fraternal solidarity and mutual aid. This commitment has always been shown first and foremost on the level of the local councils, in the many quiet ways in which Knights have always sought to help one another, especially in difficult times such as the present economic downturn. It has also found privileged expression in your Order’s institutional programs of insurance and financial planning, which have brought stability and hope to so many individuals and families, and in your charitable outreach to the poor throughout the world, particularly in the wake of disasters such as those that recently struck Haiti and Japan. His Holiness is likewise grateful for the unswerving support that the Knights have given to the Successor of Peter in his ministry to the universal Church. He sees in this great symphony of charity a testimony to the catholicity of our faith and to the breadth and depth of our hope in Christ’s saving promises.
With these sentiments, the Holy Father invokes upon all assembled in Denver the Spirit’s gifts of wisdom, understanding and good counsel. Commending all the Knights and their families to the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, he cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in Jesus, her divine Son.
Adding my own prayerful good wishes for the work of the Supreme Convention, I remain
Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone
Secretary of State