The message of Pope Francis to the Supreme Convention challenges Knights to live out our vocation to fraternity
by Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson
Carl A. Anderson
One of the highlights of our annual Supreme Convention is the message sent to us by our Holy Father. This year was no exception. In fact, the message of Pope Francis this year was especially important.
In my concluding remarks to convention delegates, I asked them to consider the message of our Holy Father as the Order’s “mission statement” for the coming year. Now, I invite every brother Knight to study this message, because it is our road map for the months ahead. The pope’s message was transmitted to us in a July 28 letter from Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and will be printed in full in the October issue of Columbia. It is available now at kofc.org.
The theme of this year’s Supreme Council meeting, “You Will All Be Brothers: Our Vocation to Fraternity,” was taken from the pope’s message for the 2014 World Day for Peace. In his message to us, the pope reiterated that “the Church is called to be a community of brothers and sisters who accept and care for one another and serve as a leaven of reconciliation and unity for the whole human family.” He then observed that “this vocation found particular expression in principles of faith, fraternity and service which guided the establishment of the Knights of Columbus.”
Pope Francis went on to say that “the fidelity of the Knights to these high ideals has not only ensured the continued vitality of [our] Order, but has also contributed, and continues to contribute, to the mission of the Church at every level.”
We can say that this is high praise from our Holy Father, but these words bring with them an even greater responsibility for our actions in the future.
Pope Francis is calling upon all Catholics to cast aside what he has described as a growing “globalization of indifference” and instead to build “a community of brothers and sisters who accept and care for one another.” This, he stated, is our “vocation to fraternity.”
And as I said in my annual report to the Supreme Convention, “Who better to respond to this call than the world’s greatest Catholic fraternal organization?”
Our response is one that must be taken up by every brother Knight, beginning within our own families and local councils. From there, it must reach out into our parishes and local communities.
The message of our Holy Father also cited “the distinguished history” of the Knights of Columbus in promoting “the virtue of patriotism” and our work to build a more just society. In that regard, he thanked us for our efforts to defend religious liberty and the free exercise of religion, saying “no one can demand that religion should be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without influence on societal or national life.”
Finally, the letter conveyed Pope Francis’ gratitude for our efforts to “instill a strong sense of civic responsibility” concerning the “growing threats to the integrity of marriage and the family.”
In my report to the Supreme Convention, I observed that nearly a decade before Pope Leo XIII’s great encyclical Rerum Novarum so clearly identified issues of social justice in the 19th century and launched what has come to be known as the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church, Father Michael J. McGivney established a fraternal association of Catholic men who would bring the values of the Gospel into society in order to help build up the common good.
In this, and so many other ways, Father McGivney’s vision prepared the Knights of Columbus for the laity’s active role in the life of the Church and society that was proposed by the Second Vatican Council.
Every brother Knight should be immensely grateful for the recent guidance given to us by our Holy Father on how to live out our “vocation to fraternity” as Knights of Columbus. Now that the course is so clearly set, it is up to us to see to it that we move forward in our mission with determination and integrity.