Other Papal Projects
Along with collaboration with the Vatican on technology, communications and renovations during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, the Knights of Columbus have also funded several specific projects for the Holy Father, and have worked in tandem with him on a variety of projects.
One of the most important initiatives of the Knights of Columbus in aiding the papacy of John Paul II, occurred in 1981, when the Knights established the Vicarius Christi Fund. The fund provided an endowment of $1 million, the interest from which would be given to the pope for use at his discretion. Since that time, the fund has grown to $20 million and its earnings have provided the Pope with $35 million.
In support of the Holy Father's stand against secular atheism and atheistic communism, the Knights funded a Vatican colloquium entitled "The Common Christian Roots of the European Nations." The Knights also funded the printing and distribution of some 1,500 two-volume sets of the proceedings of this conference. They were disseminated throughout then-communist Eastern Europe.
The Knights also supported the pope's travels, contributing to the expenses of the Holy Father's visit to Canada in 1984, and to his trip to the United States in 1987. Several papal documents have also been published by the Knights including "The Pope Speaks to the American Church," a complete collection of the pope's addresses to Catholics in the United States between 1979 and 1988, in collaboration with the Cambridge (Mass.) Center for Study of Faith and Culture. The Knights also developed and distributed a study guide on the 1989 encyclical Christifideles Laici.
In addition, the Knights have provided financial assistance to the Holy Father to help offset the annual operating budget of the San Lorenzo International Youth Center in Rome, which is designed to provide a prayerful place for young pilgrims to become familiar with the Vatican and Rome in congenial surroundings.
Between 1995 and 1999, the Knights of Columbus purchased and ultimately paid off in its entirety, the $1.5 million Vatican's U.N. Permanent Observer Mission headquarters in New York City.
Beyond financial support, the Knights of Columbus have answered the pope's call to active lay involvement in the Church as part of the New Evangelization. In addition to the countless hours and dollars the Knights of Columbus has put at the service of the Church, the organization has also stood alongside the pope on a wide range of social issues, seeking to answer the pope's call to spread the Gospel and foster a Culture of Life.
In recognition of the service of the Knights of Columbus, Pope John Paul II has sent an annual letter to the Knights for over 20 years. He has also granted audiences both to the Board of Directors, and on several occasions to the Supreme Knight.