VATICAN CITY, OCT. 9, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II thanked the Knights of Columbus for their service to the Church and invited them to be “a leaven of the Gospel in the world.”
The Holy Father received in audience today the Knights who are in Rome for the 25th anniversary of his pontificate.
“On this occasion I wish to express once more my deep gratitude for the unfailing support which your order has given to the Church’s mission,” the Pope said.
“This support is shown in a special way in the Vicarius Christi Fund, which is a sign of the solidarity of the Knights of Columbus with the Successor of Peter in his concern for the universal Church,” he added. “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.”
In his greeting, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson recalled the numerous occasions in which this institution has served the Church since John Paul II was elected Pope.
In this connection, the Pontiff mentioned, for example, the Knights’ contribution to the restoration of St. Peter’s Basilica, and their financial support which has made it possible to have the Pope’s voice heard worldwide, particularly through television, in key moments of this pontificate.
The Holy Father added that the Knights of Columbus sponsored the restoration, completed in July, of two chapels of the Vatican grottos dedicated to the Virgin Mary, as well as of frescos in St. Peter’s.
The Pope encouraged the Knights to be faithful to the vision of their founder, Father Michael McGivney, whose cause of beatification is under way, and to “continue to seek new ways of being a leaven of the Gospel in the world and a spiritual force for the renewal of the Church in holiness, unity and truth.”
The Knights of Columbus organization is a Catholic men’s fraternal benefit society that was formed to render financial aid to members and their families. Mutual aid and assistance are offered to sick, disabled, and needy members and their families. Social and intellectual fellowship is promoted among members and their families through educational, charitable and religious endeavors, and social welfare, war relief and public relief works.
The group has more than 12,000 councils and 1.6 million members worldwide. See (www.kofc.org).