San Antonio, Texas, Aug 6, 2013 / 01:37 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- At the Knights of Columbus' annual meeting, Texas Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller praised the group for its worldwide charitable work and encouraged continued compassion for immigrants.
The archbishop presided over the Aug. 6 opening Mass for the Knights' convention at their 131st Annual Supreme Council Meeting in San Antonio.
During his homily, he commended the 1.8 million-member global fraternity, saying the group's “principles of charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism are vital for the Church and our country.”
The archbishop emphasized the Knights' 70 million hours of service to charitable causes, including relief work after the devastating Oklahoma tornado and the tragic power plant explosion in West Texas earlier this summer.
Archbishop Garcia-Siller then spoke of the many lights and shadows present in the Transfiguration from the Gospel reading, noting the joy of the disciples at seeing Jesus in his heavenly state – while also hearing the prophesy of Christ's upcoming Passion and death.
On the location of the Knights' gathering, he echoed the words of Supreme Knight Carl Anderson by saying that “evangelization, immigration, and the quest for freedom” have shaped the community in San Antonio, making it a “special place” to hold the convention.
“The Church here is alive, and we are growing,” he reflected.
However, while “these are stories of the light,” there are also “many shadows,” found not only in Texas, but throughout the U.S. and many other parts of the world.
“One of the most difficult issues is the constant migration of peoples,” who are often driven from their homelands due to violence, a lack of employment and deep poverty, he said.
The archbishop quoted Pope Francis, saying that “the Church is mother” and that her motherly tenderness and affection is expressed in a special way to those who are “obliged to flee their own country and exist between rootlessness and integration.”
Speaking of the need to reform the current immigration system, which is “clearly broken,” Archbishop Garcia-Siller stated that this “is not a liberal or a conservative issue, a Democratic or a Republican issue.”
“It is an issue for every patriot, every citizen, and every man or woman of faith. It is a human issue, a moral issue. We cannot be indifferent to it.”
He thanked the Knights for their work and for all the good that they have done, and encouraged them to follow the words that Pope Francis spoke to the youth during World Youth Day in Rio de Janiero “Go. Do not be afraid. Serve.”
Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Supreme Chaplain for the Knights of Columbus, told CNA Aug. 6 that the mission of the Knights when it comes to immigration is “definitely growing.”
Archbishop Lori echoed the words of Archbishop Garcia-Siller, calling immigration “a human issue,” and “a question of protecting human dignity and helping people to achieve the better in life.”
He said that the Knights also see the issue in terms “a partnership of the North and South Church.”
The archbishop cited the group's heavy involvement in Ecclesia en America – an international congress held at the Vatican last December – as one of the ways in which they protect, love and help immigrants.
“It inspires us then to work for immigration laws that are truly just, and truly merciful.”
Emphasizing that the Knights of Columbus are an international organization, Archbishop Lori said that some mistakenly “think of the Knights often as a North American phenomenon,” despite their longstanding presence in Mexico, as well as Central America and Canada.
On the Knights' mission involving immigration at this time in their history, the archbishop said “I think we’re seeking to increase our presence in Latin America,” so “it is a great moment to us.”