To follow up on my post from last week containing my open letter to Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of Columbus, I want to link to a column by Fr. Peter Daly, a retired priest in Washington DC. He writes for the National Catholic Reporter, and his anger at what the KofC did (or did not do) is palpable, leading to his very public resignation from the Knights. Here is a sampler:
I’m done with the Knights of Columbus.
I have been a member of the Knights of Columbus for 33 years. I am a fourth degree Knight, which is as far up the ranks as I can go. I have been chaplain to our local council and “faithful friar” to the local fourth degree assembly. I have been to scores of meetings and ceremonies. I have paid premiums on my Knights of Columbus life insurance for three decades. I graduated from and taught at the Columbus School of Law, founded by the Knights of Columbus, at the Catholic University of America. But now, I am done. I am quitting.
Because the top brass of the Knights of Columbus (known as the Supreme Council) injected the Knights into a partisan campaign at a moment of crisis in our national life. They politicized the order and took the side of racial bigotry and the violation of the constitutional and human rights of American citizens. They invited President Donald Trump to use the St. John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C., as a prop for a photo for his political campaign. They did it at a moment of national crisis, the day after he had used St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., as a prop.
I certainly share his frustration with the national leadership of the KofC: I stopped reading Columbia Magazine, the monthly magazine of the order, more than a decade ago, because I could not handle the ways in which the leadership continued to conflate our Catholic identity with conservative Republican politics. But I have never given up on the Knights: I have found my local council to be a source of fellowship and a concrete way to support my parish. I encouraged all three of my sons to become Knights, and I hope that in the future they will find a welcome in some local council when they settle down. But I am no fan of the politicization of the Knights.
The final irony of all this is that even though he has resigned, there is a good chance that Fr. Daly will still continue to grace the KofC membership rolls for years to come. In a recent lawsuit, it was alleged that the Knights of Columbus kept former members on the books to increase membership numbers, since a dip in their membership would have an adverse impact on the financial rating of their insurance company.
But I recommend his heartfelt column to all.