VATICAN CITY, AUG. 3, 2012 (Zenit.org).- A papal message to the Knights of Columbus lauds the men's group for their work in helping the Catholic community to respond at this time "when concerted efforts are being made to redefine and restrict the exercise of the right to religious freedom."
This was part of the encouragement sent to the Knights by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope's secretary of state, on the Holy Father's behalf. The message, dated July 19, is on the occasion of the Knights' 130th Supreme Convention, which will be held next week.
"The theme of this year's Supreme Convention - Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land - evokes not only the great biblical ideals of freedom and justice which shaped the founding of the United States of America, but also the responsibility of each new generation to preserve, defend and advance those great ideals in its own day," the papal message stated. "At a time when concerted efforts are being made to redefine and restrict the exercise of the right to religious freedom, the Knights of Columbus have worked tirelessly to help the Catholic community recognize and respond to the unprecedented gravity of these new threats to the Church's liberty and public moral witness.
"By defending the right of all religious believers, as individual citizens and in their institutions, to work responsibly in shaping a democratic society inspired by their deepest beliefs, values and aspirations, your Order has proudly lived up to the high religious and patriotic principles which inspired its founding."
The Pope suggested that the current challenges are proof of "the decisive importance of the Catholic laity for the advancement of the Church's mission in today's rapidly changing social context."
The message cited what the Holy Father told a group of US bishops in Rome earlier this year, that "the demands of the new evangelization and the defense of the Church's freedom in our day call for 'an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis-a-vis the dominant culture and with the courage to counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church's participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society.'"
In this context, the Pontiff called on the Knights of Columbus to "reinforce the praiseworthy programs of continuing catechetical and spiritual formation which have long been a hallmark of your Order."
"Each Knight," he said, "in fidelity to his baptismal promises, is pledged to bear daily witness, however quiet and unassuming, to his faith in Christ, his love of the Church and his commitment to the spread of God's Kingdom in this world."
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