SINCE OUR ORDER’S founding, one of the great hallmarks of the Knights of Columbus has been our loyalty to the successor of Peter, the pope. In 1882, Father Michael McGivney proposed “Unity and Charity” as our first principles. Unity — that is, in the Catholic faith — is mentioned even before Charity. Christ Jesus is the center of true unity, and as he built his Church on the rock of St. Peter, the successor of Peter is always the visible center of the Church’s unity on earth.
I had the great honor of pledging our continued loyalty to Pope Francis when he received me in a private audience at the end of October.
The Holy Father welcomed Past Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William Lori and me with remarkable warmth and kindness. On a personal level, it was a moving experience to be introduced to the pope by our worthy past supreme knight. I’ve worked closely with Past Supreme Knight Anderson and with Archbishop Lori for many years, so it meant so much for me to be with these two great men as I met with Pope Francis for the first time as supreme knight.
It was, in a sense, a passing of the baton from one supreme knight to another. And it was a privilege for me to speak with the Holy Father about our continuity of leadership and mission. I reaffirmed the Order’s commitment to serve him as the successor of Peter, and I shared details about our work around the world. I also thanked the Holy Father for the great gift of declaring the Year of St. Joseph.
Pope Francis was very pleased to learn about our new Pilgrim Icon Program featuring an image of St. Joseph. I gave him a copy of the program book in Spanish and informed him that the reflections in the program are taken from Patris Corde, his beautiful letter on St. Joseph published last year.
The pope was grateful that we made St. Joseph a central focus of our spiritual efforts.
‘The Holy Father was tremendously encouraging of the Knights, not only for our work in advancing unity, but also for our steadfast work of charitable outreach and in building Christian fraternity.’
He expressed his enthusiasm not only through his words, but also by blessing and signing the framed copy of the icon that I had brought to the audience.
I also presented a first-class relic of Blessed Michael McGivney to the Holy Father. His reaction was deeply moving. He took the reliquary from its box, and then, with much reverence, he venerated the relic with a kiss. Pope Francis has already done much to draw attention to Father McGivney’s life, and it was clear in that moment that he has a personal appreciation for the exemplary parish priest who founded the Knights of Columbus. That, too, should be a source of pride for every Knight.
Moreover, the Holy Father was tremendously encouraging of the Knights, not only for our work in advancing unity, but also for our steadfast work of charitable outreach and building Christian fraternity. He encouraged us in our formation of Catholic men and support for a healthy sense of fatherhood.
It is not every day that you receive such a boost from the pope, the bishop of Rome. But when it comes to bishops praising the work of the Knights of Columbus, it’s certainly nothing out of the norm. I’ve spoken with many bishops since becoming supreme knight less than a year ago — and I’ve been so encouraged by what I’ve heard. They are deeply grateful for the Knights and everything we do. Even more, they have what I would call a deep affection for the Order.
Our work of building charity, unity and fraternity in the Church does not go unnoticed. Nor does it fail to bear fruit. By continuing on, strengthened by our faith and by the intercession and inspiration of St. Joseph, Blessed Michael McGivney and Our Lady of Guadalupe, this fruit will continue to be multiplied. Thank you, brother Knights, for all that you do — particularly in your efforts to build unity in our parishes and in our Church.
Logos & Emblems
Fraternal Leader Advisory
Knights in Action
Share your Knights in Action News
Please contact the
Knights of Columbus News Bureau