At the beginning of the Wednesday morning business session, a number of members of the hierarchy offered brief reflections to the delegates.
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, D.C., began his address with a humorous account, in his warm and friendly style. He told the delegates he had planned to talk about the New Evangelization, but then he heard what his successor, Archbishop Donald Wuerl, had said about that topic in his homily at the Opening Mass – so that was out.
Then the cardinal thought he would talk about charity, but after listening to Supreme Knight Carl Anderson discuss that topic in his annual report, the cardinal decided to hit on another theme.
Finally, the cardinal said, he wanted to talk about the link between the New Evangelization and charity, but that was the theme of Cardinal Justin Rigali’s homily at the Wednesday morning Mass.
“So here I am, left without anything to say,” Cardinal McCarrick said with a wry smile and a twinkle in his eye, “but that doesn’t mean I won’t say something.” The assembly roared with laughter.
He spoke about the link between charity and dialogue. He said that as Catholics, we must always hold firmly to the truths of the faith, and make sure that others know what we believe, but we must present our ideas with a loving respect for others, especially for those who disagree with us.
“We are living in a world without charity,” he said. “We will only change people’s hearts and minds if they know that we love them and respect them with the true charity of Christ. Only then will they listen.”
Cardinal McCarrick also said a few words about vocations. If the Knights of Columbus as an Order would “tithe vocations” to the Church, the vocation crisis would be ended overnight, he said.
What does that mean? “If 10 percent of the 1.8 million members would produce a vocation from their families, that would be 180,000 vocations,” he explained. “Maybe next year, in the supreme knight’s report, he will be able to say that the Knights gave 180,000 vocations to the Church.”
He got a standing ovation.
Front Line Faith
Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, said in his address that there are 400,000 Catholic men and women in the military, with their families. “I have an unusual diocese that extends to U.S. military installations around the world,” he observed.
He said that every Catholic service person receives a packet containing a rosary, Catholic literature and a copy of the prayer booklet Armed with Faith, which is published by the Knights of Columbus. More than 500,000 copies have been distributed. The French edition has also been given to military personnel in Canada.
Archbishop Broglio thanked the Knights for the booklets, the support the Order has given for the purchase of the archdiocese’s chancery building in Washington, D.C., and the moral support local councils offer soldiers in the field.
“You have done much,” he said. “Please continue to be there for these young people and their chaplains.”
Faith and Family
Bishop Jean Laffitte, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family, said that the Knights of Columbus has been an invaluable aid to the Vatican dicastery over the years. Supreme Knight Anderson is a member of the council.
As a divinely created institution and the primary cell of all society, the family is the key to the future of the human race, Bishop Laffitte said. Thus, the family is at the center of the care and pastoral solicitude of the Church. Catholics must begin their defense of the family by caring for their own families. Then they must seek cultural support for the family against the many threats of the modern world, he added.
He urged Knights to build strong families and to work together for the good of all families.