The Knights of Columbus


No one can debate the good works done by the folks at any of the 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children located throughout the United States.  They provide medical care for kids with a variety of conditions at no cost to their families.  No doubt this is a great charity and thousands have benefitted from their care over the decades.  Shriners do lots of charity work in their communities, but I’ll bet most of us known them for the hats they wear (it’s called a “fez”), their candy sales, their circuses, and those little cars they drive in parades.  Shriners are associated with Masonic lodges.  All Shriners are Masons, but not all Masons are Shriners, if that makes sense.  Masons also have several other groups under their umbrella, like the Order of the Eastern Star, the Order of DeMolay, and the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls.  All of these groups set their own membership requirements.  

Since 1738, the Catholic Church has forbidden her members from joining Freemasonry.  In 1983, the Vatican issued another declaration affirming that Catholicism and Freemasonry are “irreconcilable” and that any Catholic who enrolls in a Masonic association is “in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.”  The Church’s objections are based on the Masonic teachings of a naturalistic deistic religion which is at odds with Christianity.  Deism denies the Holy Trinity, the inerrancy of Sacred Scripture, divine revelation and miracles. Some protestant denominations have also objected to Masonic teachings, but really only Catholics and Greek Orthodox Christians forbid membership.   The Church makes rules like this to promote fraternity and charity in solidly Christian groups, like the Knights of Columbus.  

Founded in 1882 in New Haven, Connecticut, the Knights of Columbus is a fraternal charity of Catholic men whose principles are charity, unity and fraternity.  Their founder, Father Michael J. Mcgiviney, may soon be on the road to sainthood.  Almost 2 million Knights now serve in countries all over the world.  The Knights came into being at a time in America when Catholic immigrants were the victims of widespread discrimination and often were barred from joining labor unions or social welfare groups.  The Knights helped struggling Catholic families with financial aid for the unemployed and affordable life insurance.  They continue this mission today.  The Knights support Habitat for Humanity, the Special Olympics and disaster relief around the world, among other charities.  Some famous Knights include John F. Kennedy, Jeb Bush, Vince Lombardi, and Babe Ruth.  As important as their financial support of the needy, their donation of millions and millions of work hours given to charitable causes is just as impressive.  

The Masons and the Shriners also give tons of money and man-hours to charitable causes.  The Catholic Church in no way minimizes this good work.  The Church calls Catholic men to serve with one another, to share in fraternal fellowship with other Catholic men, building up the Body of Christ through the community of parish and Council life.  The work of the Knights of Columbus is and always has been, an overtly Christian organization.  Members are all Catholic men in good standing whose lives reflect the beliefs and teachings of the Church.  They are not Deists or secularists.  They are faithful Catholics.

If you’re in a parish that’s blessed to have an active Council of Knights, be sure to support them with your treasure and your prayers.  The Knights have long-enjoyed the patronage and support of the Popes.  Pope Francis has encouraged the Knights to continue their defense of the sanctity of marriage, the dignity of human life, the beauty and truth of human sexuality, and the rights of believers.  This group of men represents the best of our parish community life.  Lately, we’re heard and read a lot about the lack of men in the church pews and ministries.  The Knights of Columbus are the answer to the question: “Where are all the good Catholic men?”  They’re right here, serving God and their neighbors in charity and fraternity.  If you’re a Catholic man looking for a place for God to use your time and talents, contact your local Council of the Knights of Columbus.  They have a spot for you.

“The proof of love is in the works.  Where love exists, it works great things.  But when it ceases to act, it ceases to exist.”
     —-St.  Gregory the Great
           (540 – 604 A.D.) 


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