Vatican City, Oct 10, 2013 / 04:34 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- At a recent audience, Pope Francis encouraged the Knights of Columbus to continue working towards the renewal of society through their charitable efforts, prayer and the witness of their lives.
Meeting with the organization’s Board of Directors on Oct. 10, the Pope thanked the Knights for their prayers on his behalf.
“On this occasion I also wish to express my gratitude for the unfailing support which your Order has always given to the works of the Holy See,” Pope Francis said, according to Vatican Radio.
“This support finds particular expression in the Vicarius Christi Fund, which is an eloquent sign of your solidarity with the Successor of Peter in his concern for the universal Church, but it is also seen in the daily prayers, sacrifices and apostolic works of so many Knights in their local Councils, their parishes and their communities.”
The Vicarius Christi Fund is an initiative that supports the Pope’s personal charities. It is one of many charitable endeavors run by the Knights of Columbus, the world’s largest lay Catholic organization which has more than 1.8 million members throughout the world.
Fraternity and charity are two key marks of the organization, which over the past decade has donated $1.475 billion to charity and given more than 673 million hours of volunteer hours to support charitable works.
Pope Francis voiced hope that prayer, witness and charity may remain the “pillars” of the Knights’ work, both collectively and individually.
He called for them to continue in fidelity to the mission of their founder, Venerable Father Michael McGivney, seeking “new ways of being a leaven of the Gospel and a force for the spiritual renewal of society.”
“As the present Year of Faith draws to its close, I commend all of you in a special way to the intercession of Saint Joseph, the protector of the Holy Family of Nazareth,” the Pontiff said.
He pointed to St. Joseph as “an admirable model of those manly virtues of quiet strength, integrity and fidelity which the Knights of Columbus are committed to preserving, cultivating and passing on to future generations of Catholic men.”
Pope Francis concluded by imparting his Apostolic Blessing to the Knights and their families, asking for their continued prayers.
In a statement following the audience, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson – who also met separately with the Pope – voiced gratitude for the Holy Father’s encouragement and said that the organization has assured him of its solidarity.
“As an organization founded on the principle of charity to those on the margins of society by the sons of immigrants in the New World, we have a special affinity with the pope from the New World, whose ministry has been so focused on those on society’s periphery,” he said.
“I see in the ministry of Pope Francis a similarity with the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe,” Anderson continued.
He noted that during a period of “cultural conflict and upheaval,” Our Lady “brought a message of hope to the downtrodden, she served as a bridge between cultures, she appeared as the mother ready to welcome everyone.”
“In doing so, she created enormous interest in the faith, and many millions came to embrace the love of Christ through her, making our continent, even today, the Catholic continent.”
“Pope Francis is doing something similar,” the Supreme Knight said. “He is presenting the Church in the same loving manner. He is championing the downtrodden, and bringing the love of Christ to the frontiers. He is working to bridge cultural divides, and in doing so, he is awakening an interest in the faith around the world.”