Dear Mr. Anderson,
His Holiness Pope Francis was pleased to learn that from 6 to 8 August 2019, the 137th Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus will assemble in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He has asked me to convey his warm good wishes to all present, together with the assurance of his closeness in prayer.
The theme of this year’s Convention — Knights of Columbus: Knights of Unity — calls to mind the inspiration that led to the founding of your Order as a fraternal association of mutual assistance and commitment to the Church’s apostolic mission. In the vision of Father Michael McGivney, unity and charity were to be the hallmark of the Knights of Columbus. Over the years, in fidelity to that vision, the Knights have distinguished themselves in service to families, in concern for the poor and underprivileged, and in efforts to contribute to the building of a just and virtuous society, for the extension of Christ’s kingdom and the salvation of souls.
In a world devastated by violence, injustice and growing polarization, this witness of unity in service to the Gospel has become all the more timely and urgent. For this reason, the Holy Father is pleased that this year’s Supreme Convention has chosen to emphasize its centrality to the identity and apostolate of your Order. On the eve of his death, our Lord prayed for the unity of his disciples, precisely “so that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21). The Church’s communion in charity is the wellspring of her mission to proclaim the reconciling power of the paschal mystery, to lead the nations to faith and to be a prophetic sign of God’s will that the human family, wounded and estranged by sin, be restored to unity and peace (cf. Lumen Gentium, 1). It is that mission which the Knights are pledged to advance through their daily pursuit of holiness and their efforts to imbue every level of society with the values of the Gospel.
As all of us are acutely aware, the effectiveness of the Church’s witness has been gravely affected by the scandal and distrust resulting from the sexual abuse of minors and its handling over many years. As with all situations of serious sin, the ecclesial community is being called, in fidelity to Christ, to face painful truths with honesty and integrity, regardless of the cost, to do penance and repair the harm that has been done, and above all to reach out to those who have been so grievously hurt. The Holy Father is convinced that the Knights of Columbus can play a privileged role in these efforts to mend the torn fabric of ecclesial life. Your Order’s historic concern for the vulnerable and its unfailing support for the life and ministry of priests are more than ever needed to foster the sources of spiritual renewal that will lead, by God’s grace, to healing of wounds and to the strengthening of the priesthood in holiness and apostolic zeal. With profound gratitude, then, His Holiness thanks the Knights for their continued prayers for the sanctification of priests, exemplified most recently in the pilgrimages of devotion made to the relic of the heart of the saintly Curé of Ars, patron of parish priests and a powerful intercessor for the revival of the Christian life and holiness in the midst of an often indifferent society.
In his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit, His Holiness echoed the insistence of last year’s Synod on Youth that unity and solidarity between the generations need to be reinforced and encouraged. Surrounded by a growing culture of individualism, materialism and moral confusion, many young people today are looking for examples of wisdom, mature faith and lifelong commitment to the values that bring lasting happiness. For generations, young men have encountered in the Knights of Columbus examples of solid Catholic faith, concern for the poor and those in need, and commitment to the common good. It is the Holy Father’s hope that every Council will reach out and support the young in these aspirations, enabling them, through full participation in its life and activities, “to share in the joy of fraternal communion” (No. 167) and thus to contribute to the new evangelization as missionary disciples, filled with love for the Lord and his Church.
Daily the Holy Father remembers in his prayers the Christians in the Middle East and elsewhere who encounter hostility and persecution for their fidelity to the Gospel. His heart is filled with gratitude for the generosity with which the Knights of Columbus have responded to his repeated appeals for prayers and charitable assistance to these, our brothers and sisters in the faith. Once again, he implores the Knights and their families to persevere in prayer for peace in the Middle East, for an end to violence, and for the resumption of respectful dialogue as the only path to a lasting resolution of conflicts in that troubled region.
With these sentiments, His Holiness commends the deliberations of the 137th Supreme Convention to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church. Assuring the Knights and their families of a constant remembrance in his prayers, he affectionately imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of strength and peace in the Lord.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin
Secretary of State