Supreme Knight Carl Anderson has advocated for the dignity and rights of unborn children for more than 50 years. These decades of work for the pro-life cause were recognized Jan. 29 when the March for Life Education and Defense Fund honored him with its 2021 Pro-Life Legacy Award.
March for Life President Jeanne Mancini presented the award during the organization’s annual Rose Dinner, held virtually this year.
“No one has done more to advance the pro-life cause than Carl Anderson,” Mancini said. “He is a true pro-life warrior, and his work and tireless dedication to the cause is an example to us all.”
In accepting the award, Supreme Knight Anderson said, “All of us have our own reason why we are part of this great pro-life cause. For me, it’s best summed up by the saying, ‘Whoever saves one life, saves the world.’”
Under Supreme Knight Anderson’s leadership, the Knights of Columbus has become a preeminent defender of life in the United States and in many countries around the world — through education, advocacy and various charitable initiatives. But Anderson’s pro-life advocacy began long before he was elected supreme knight in 2000.
Supreme Knight Anderson worked in government and public policy in the 1970s and ’80s and held several positions in the White House under President Ronald Reagan. During his years in Washington, he advocated strongly for pro-life policies, such as the Hyde Amendment, and helped develop the Mexico City Policy — which barred U.S. foreign aid dollars from being used to promote abortion overseas. Anderson also served for nearly a decade on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
In addition, Supreme Knight Anderson is a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, appointed by Pope John Paul II in 1998 and reappointed by Pope Francis in 2017. He has served as a consultant to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities since 2002, and Pope Benedict XVI appointed him as a member of the Pontifical Council for the Family in 2008.
In his Rose Dinner remarks, the supreme knight urged the pro-life movement to remain committed to four foundational principles: justice, truth, democracy and compassion.
Justice is possible only when laws are based on truth, he said, noting that the U.S. Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion throughout the country in 1973, is riddled with “falsehoods and misstatements of history.” Ultrasound technology reveals the truth that Roe v. Wade denied, he added.
“Modern ultrasound technology confirms in an extraordinary way what we knew in 1973 — and even long before,” Anderson said. “Ultrasounds allow every mother to experience the living reality of her child.”
On Jan. 22, 2009, the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Supreme Knight Anderson established the Knights of Columbus Ultrasound Initiative to bring this experience to as many mothers as possible. Since then, K of C councils have donated more than 1,300 life-saving ultrasound machines to pro-life pregnancy centers throughout the United States, and Supreme Knight Anderson has called the initiative “the greatest humanitarian achievement in the history of the Knights of Columbus.”
In his Rose Dinner remarks, the supreme knight also expressed confidence in the American democratic system to right the wrong of legalized abortion.
“No matter how entrenched, no matter its claim to stability, in America no unjust law is sustainable,” he said. “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was right: The arc of history may be long, but it bends towards justice.”
Roe v. Wade is not settled law, he continued, pointing out the strong bipartisan consensus to significantly restrict abortions, as revealed by the Knights of Columbus/Marist Poll — a survey of public opinion on abortion conducted annually since 2008.
Finally, the supreme knight praised the pro-life movement for its compassion and generosity to vulnerable mothers and children.
“The strength to offer a helping hand and the courage to love another — especially when that person is in need — is often hidden from public view, but it is nonetheless very real. A culture of compassion and love quietly permeates the pro-life cause. It is the wellspring from which all else flows.”
Although many challenges remain, the supreme knight expressed hope in the ultimate goal of moving America “toward justice, toward compassion, toward life.”
“Each of us, way back from the beginning of the pro-life movement, has known we are on a lifetime’s journey,” he said. “The direction of that journey does not bend. It does not waver, though sometimes, it may slow down. But in the end, our pro-life journey has a destination and that, my friends, is victory.”
To read Supreme Knight Anderson’s full address here.
To learn more about the Knights of Columbus’ pro-life programs, click here.
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