Sunday, May 23, 2010

Knights of Columbus won't expel pro-abortion politicians

The leadership of the Knights of Columbus (K of C) has forbidden local councils to take any action against members of the Catholic fraternal organization who support legalized abortion or same-sex marriage.

A Massachusetts K of C member had proposed a resolution, to be taken up by the group's state convention, calling for the suspension of membership of any politician who gave public support to abortion and same-sex marriage. That resolution was declared inappropriate by the Supreme Advocate of the K of C, John Marrella.

In a letter to the Massachusetts K of C leadership, Marrella declared that "a subordinate council may not impose fraternal discipline with respect to a public figure's official actions on matters pertaining to faith and morals. Rather, any such discipline must be made by or at the direction of the Supreme Board of Directors."

"We recognize that some of our members who are public figures may use their public position to advocate or support policy positions that are contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church on matters of faith and morals," Marrella conceded in his letter. He went on to admit that such public advocacy "contradicts the Catholic identity and mission of the Order."

Nevertheless, the top legal official of the K of C said that any action taken against K of C members who are public figures would "necessarily affect the entire Order." For that reason, he said, any disciplinary action should be taken by the group's top leadership.

Marrella went on to say that the K of C would not go further than the American bishops in taking public action against members whose public stands conflict with Church moral teachings. "If the public figure's bishop has not excommunicated him for his public positions on issues relating to matters of faith and morals, it would be highly inappropriate for the Knights of Columbus to do so," he wrote.

In the thirty-seven years since Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Board of Directors has never, to public knowledge, removed a single pro-abortion political figure from the Knights of Columbus. In Massachusetts, a majority of Knights serving in the Legislature voted in 2007 against a constitutional amendment restoring traditional marriage, and voted in 2005 for a law which compels Catholic hospitals to distribute the so-called morning after pill to rape victims.
Our friend, Phil Lawlor delivers a stinging rebuke to the Knights of Columbus.

The Knights respond
When my wife and a group of friends started a Crisis Pregnancy Center in 1982, the Knights of Columbus were the key donors. When I was urging people to join me in risking arrest as we sat peacefully and prayerfully at abortion clinics, a number of Knights were the most reliable "rescuers" with me. The Knights regularly provide volunteer help for our efforts at Ave Maria Communications. Thus, I hope they can get this straightened out. I don't know how many active Knights are pro-abortion politicians or even how many of the rank and file Knights are pro-abortion. Hopefully, not many.
Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, Carl Anderson's A Civilization of Love: What Every Catholic Can Do to Transform the World is one of the three indispensable books I recommend for Catholics who want to know how to radiate godly influence into this world.
Pray that the Knights would have the discernment necessary to do the right thing and do it well. I think Phil's words need to be taken to heart.


  1. The title is incorrect --

    The letter does NOT say it won't expell such members.

    It simply sets up a procedure to do it most effectively and charitably.

  2. I have to chuckle as you lift up Carl Andersen as a person who radiates godly love.Carl andersen was deeply invoved in the Ed Meese Ronald Reagan era that dangled the pro-life cause in front of conservative catholics.At the same time they carried out many activities contradicatory to catholic social teaching.Andersen is another sad promoter and protecter of immoral invasions and torture.Conservative catholics don't want to hear this,and believe at face value that he is pro-life.A culture of life,which al kresta promotes,written by andersen,applies only to the american unborn.People in third world countries,where andersen's boss,Ed Meese carried out anti-christian activites might not agree that he is a promoter of godly love...rob

  3. Thank you Katherine! I'm amazed at how so many Catholics are so ready and willing to throw the KofC under the bus - especially when they have done more to advance the pro-life movement than any other organization.


    "Whether or not an applicant is a practical Catholic is for the Church to decide. Therefore, it is expected that before a written report is filed, the [admission] committee will have discussed the situation with the chaplain of the council or the applicant's pastor and will be bound by the decision of either."

    The problem lies with the members who become "dissidents" after they join.

    Personally, to have the leaders at the local level decide "who is a good Catholic and who is not..." is asking for trouble. Although it may seem like a "dodging the issue" tactic, it is actually a very PRACTICAL WAY of keeping the local guys from stepping on themselves.


    In the past the KofC has removed public figures from membership - but ONLY after their bishop made the request - and it was done by the HQ's.


    "Without the contributions of the Knights... The pro-life movement would not look anything like it looks today."

  4. Oh my, Anonymous...

    If you're going to cast stones at someone who worked in the same building with Meese, then perhaps you have more targets closer to home than you think.

    Didn't Ave Maria law school just have Ed Meese as one of their great honorary guests for the 1 year anniversary of moving?


    In fact, just last month ago, they hosted him as part of their "A conversation with..." program of VIP speakers.

    Besides, "working with" is different than "being responsible for everything that came out of" ...

  5. The Reagan admin. was the first Republican admin. to form a coalition with the 'Religious Right'. That coalition wasnt perfect and became better with successive Republican presidents. So far, the best has been Bush the younger. So I dont get the point of the crazy mad man Rob, who deserves censorship for making me write this tit-for-tat stuff, belaugering someone for establishing/working with a new alliance within the Republican party without acknowledging the fledging newness and somewhat outsider status that the new coalition found with some/many of Reagans handlers, but not with Reagan himself.

  6. A few pointed but necessary questions if this story is to become a non-story (which it may.)

    Is anybody surprised that the Knights tolerate a wide range of opinions among their membership?

    Does anybody expect that the Knights will expel such members?

    Does anybody think this would be a good thing, i.e., that it would serve and strengthen the Knights of Columbus' reason for existence?

    Does anybody think that the Knights are actually strengthened for not tighening the screws. The wheat will grow up with the tares.

    If the Knights plan to make a move, why haven't they done so yet? This is hardly a new issue.

    Carl Anderson's book A Civlization of Love needs to be read with Archbishop Chaput's Render Unto Caesar and Cardinal George's The Difference God Makes.

  7. Rob,
    You are asked once again to actually put some positive agenda on the table. What do you support? Who do you support?

    It sounds like you're frozen in the 1980s just after the American bishops published pastoral letters on the economy and war & peace. I suppose you would have the same harsh things to say about Catholics like Judge Clark and William Simon, heck, let me really wave the red flag...Michael Novak (who I also consider a godly influence in this world.)

    If you don't like the older economic/moral analysis of The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism (1982), then try the gentle apologetics of No One Sees God: The Dark Night of Atheists and Believers (2008).

  8. As a current Grand Knight, I have a few points I would like to make...

    First, it is important to note that this policy change applies to Public Officials. Joe was gratious enought to post an excerpt of Grand Knights Handbook. The policy for the longest time has been that the Chaplin and the Pastor have the final say so the "practicalness" matter. Now it appears that Supreme has REMOVED THAT OPTION option from the local council and ensured that bureaucracy will insulate these men who have chosen public office to defy Church teaching. While the policy has the appearance of and is being spun as fairness, it is really the opposite. Dissenters can feel emboldened, in the vaccum of most Bishops' voices, and speak with more impunity about their justifications for dissent than ever before.

    Second, the KofC is full of men who were admitted over the last 40 years while the Church laxed its emphasis and authority on moral teaching. I don't mean that the Churches teachings changed, but that due to the lack of consistant discipline and firm reinforcement by the Bishops and priests of the full Magisterium of the Church, many have come to embrace the ideas of the Winnipeg Statement. Liberal parishes are full of well intentioned men and women who are quick to return the slogans of "personal conscience" when it comes to discenting to their customized theology. I have also hear many say that the "enforcement thing" is the Church of the past. The Bishops want everyone to get along and follow their own concsience in this regard. These are foundations of many of the men I meet in KofC circles. I still believe the majority of the KofC are true practical Catholics, however, to refer to the others as a small minority is hiding from the Truth. One just has to read the novel "Fatherless" to see how this has become the norm. While the novel is fiction, it accuately portrays the scenerio of the failure of the Church to keep her own safe.

    I am saddened by this announcement and still need to comtemplate in prayer my response - if any. My hope is that the truely faithful, practical Catholic Gentlemen of the Knight of Columbus will rise up and demand the order live up to its Founders goals - to protect the Widows (Motherless) and orphans (Childless).

  9. AS a Past Grand Knight, I can assure you that the KofC's policies concerning membership have not changed.

    AGAIN: In the past, the KofC has removed public figures from membership - but ONLY after their bishop made the request - and it was done by the HQ's.

    What is NOT ALLOWED is for the LOCAL COUNCIL to kick someone out of the Order based on THEIR judgements about one's Catholicism.

    It would be somewhat equivelant to letting the ushers of the Church decide who is "Catholic enough" to sit in the pew and who isn't.