KEYNOTE ADDRESS OF
SUPREME KNIGHT CARL A. ANDERSON
FRATERNAL BANQUET WITH
KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS IN KOREA
May it please Your Excellencies, Reverend Fathers, Deacons, my brother knights and ladies, permit me to begin with a special word of thanks to our two bishops: Bishop Spencer who has been such a dedicated brother knight in the many countries in which the ministry of the Archdiocese for Military Services is active as well as our brother knight Bishop Francis Yu who has done so much to bring the Knights of Columbus to Korea.
I would also like to take this occasion to publicly thank the warm welcome that His Eminence Cardinal Yeom has given to the Knights of Columbus in his Archdiocese and further I would take this opportunity to publicly express our solidarity with him and our desire to be of service to his pastoral ministry to the Catholic community of this great city.
Today we have formally presented the charters for our two new councils in the Archdiocese of Seoul: St Andrew Kim Daegon Council No. 16000 and St. Paul Chong Hosang Council No. 16178 and we have taken a new step in the development of the Fourth Degree.
I believe it is providential that these initiatives have taken place contemporaneously with the pastoral visit of our Holy Father to Korea this past August. Because of this and because there are no coincidences in the unfolding of Providence, it is incumbent upon us as we lay the foundation for our Order in Korea that we be guided in our work by the pope’s message.
In fact, the pope emphasized many principles that have already been guiding our efforts.
One of the most important is that, as he said, “In Christ, all nations and peoples are called to a unity which does not destroy diversity but acknowledges, reconciles and enriches it.”
This has been a key principle guiding our efforts in Korea.
The Knights of Columbus must be a special place for an exchange of gifts among all the nations in which the Knights of Columbus is active. In this way we can better strengthen the faith and life of every brother knight and his family.
As I said earlier today during our charter presentation, if we do this we can help our universal Church become more truly a global Church.
Our Holy Father also spoke of “the importance, the dignity and the beauty of the vocation of the laity” as well as of the fact that the Church today “needs credible lay witnesses.” No Catholic can come to Korea and not realize the glorious treasure that is the historic witness of the laity in Korea.
Yesterday with Bishop Spencer we celebrated Mass at the Shrine where St. Andrew Kim Daegon and so many of his companions were martyred. Afterward we visited the Shrine’s museum and saw how so many Catholics in this land underwent martyrdom for our faith.
Pope Francis called upon Korean Catholics to be guardians of this memory. And to especially guard what he said has been achieved “through the fidelity, perseverance and work of generations of lay persons.”
As Knights of Columbus we too can easily understand the necessity to be “guardians of memory” and to being faithful to the “fidelity, perseverance and work of generations” of our brother Knights of Columbus.
During his pastoral visit, Pope Francis also stressed “the importance of the witness given by Christian families. At a time of great crisis for family life,” he said, “our Christian communities are called to support married couples and families in fulfilling their proper mission in the life of the Church and society.”
This too is a top priority for the Knights of Columbus.
Supporting family life is one of the principal reasons why the Knights of Columbus has given such heightened attention to the formation of councils on military bases.
Our military families face all the stress points that threaten family life, as do our civilian families, but they face even more through the experience of hardship deployments and the frequent change of residences and schools. And so, we must find ways to provide greater support of the marriages and families of our brother knights.
To prepare for the upcoming World Meeting of Families with Pope Francis to be held this September in Philadelphia we have initiated a new program entitled “Building the Domestic Church: The Family fully Alive.” I encourage every brother Knight and his family to participate in this program.
And yesterday, I met with the director of the Diocesan Center John Paul II at the Catholic University of Daejeon to discuss ways in which this family program can be specifically adapted to the traditions and needs of Korean society.
Another important aspect of the pope’s message, which must guide our work was his observation that a major “way in which the world threatens the solidity of our Christian identity is superficiality.”
Whether in the life of our councils or assemblies we must work closely with our chaplains in order that the Knights of Columbus in Korea is an organization which from the very beginning is a place where “our living faith in Christ” takes ever more deeper root and “which is our deepest identity” as brother Knights.
This is one reason why we have printed and distributed through the Archdiocese for Military Services approximately 600,000 copies of our “Armed with the Faith” military prayer book.
Why we have also partnered with the AMS to financially support more vocations and seminarians to the military chaplaincy and why we have supported efforts to provide enhanced catechesis for our military personnel.
The path we follow to accomplish these missions is the path of charity, unity and fraternity and these principles form the context for our Catholic understanding of patriotism.
This is why brother Knights from so many different countries can all faithfully belong to the Patriotic Degree of our Order.
As Pope Francis has reminded us, true Christian fraternity is simply the recognition that we are all neighbors who are called to care for one another. And Christian patriotism is the recognition that true love of country respects our neighbor’s love for his own country.
As we go forward in building up the Fourth Degree in Korea we will begin the process of reviewing the proud history of Catholicism in Korea so that the Fourth Degree in this country may take up the mission of being “guardians of memory” through our own work and ceremonies.
Our founder, the Venerable Fr. Michael J. McGivney chose the principles of charity, unity and fraternity around which to build this unique Catholic brotherhood.
He had a vision of a fraternal brotherhood in which Catholic men could support one another and their families in living out their vocations.
The men who took up his call had come through the crucible of a great civil war, they had learned the hard lessons taught in that experience of self-sacrifice, loyalty and brotherhood.
They had heard a great president seek to bind up the divisions and wounds of that great conflict through a very Christian message “of malice toward none and charity toward all.” And they knew of the sacrifices that had been made by those who had borne the battle and of their widows and orphans.
And so these men sought through this new organization to bring to their nation, which was still seeking a greater unity, the values of their faith — of charity, unity and fraternity. This work still continues, this vision still continues and I am proud to call each of you a brother who has joined in this noble effort.