TORONTO, AUG. 8, 2001 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II expressed his gratitude to the Knights of Columbus and challenged them to defend life, in a message to their annual convention.
The world’s largest Catholic family fraternal service organization is holding its 119th annual international meeting here through Thursday.
The Knights, the Pope wrote in his message, “made a significant contribution” to the Church’s celebration of the Jubilee. “I cannot fail to express my gratitude for your Order’s generosity in underwriting the restoration of the porch of the Patriarchal Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican, which welcomed the millions of pilgrims who passed through the Holy Door.”
Before the Jubilee Year, the Knights paid for the refurbishment of the Maderno Atrium, the porch of St. Peter’s Basilica.
The Jubilee, the Pope said, was a time of “immense grace and spiritual renewal for the Church.” Now that it has ended, he continued, each of the Knights is “challenged in a personal way to ´put out into the deep´” and with “renewed missionary zeal … to draw the men and women of our time to Christ the Savior of the world.”
The Knights of Columbus, he said, can play a significant role in “shaping a future of hope and promise for coming generations” by standing united against the secular culture’s attempts to reject or ridicule “religious belief and fundamental norms of moral law.”
In carrying out its work, the Pope called the order to a “renewed commitment to the vision of your founder, the Servant of God, Michael McGivney.” Father McGivney’s cause for sainthood is under way.
The Holy Father also thanked the Knights group for “its public witness to the Church’s teaching, especially with regard to the dignity and sanctity of human life.” He noted especially what he called “your tireless efforts to defend the life of he unborn” and support of the “Church’s proclamation of the Gospel of life.”
“It is my hope that, as the evil fruits of the culture of death become more and more apparent, the Order will continue to makes its voice heard,” the Pope wrote.
Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson announced two of the Knight´s initiatives: participation in World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto next July and the hosting of an International Eucharistic Congress at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., next June. Both events, Anderson said, present the Knights with “remarkable opportunities that will not soon be repeated.”
Anderson also said the Knights would intensify efforts for priestly and religious vocations this year by focusing not only on Catholic families but Knights of Columbus families in particular.
The Knights gave a $100,000 grant to organizers of the third Continental Congress on Vocations to be held in Montreal, April 18-22. The meeting was requested by the Pope.
The complete text of Anderson’s annual report can be read at the Knights´ Web site, www.kofc.org.