By Junno Arocho
ANAHEIM, California, AUG. 8, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Two thousand Members of the Knights of Columbus (KofC) are meeting in Anaheim for their 130th Supreme Convention. The three day event is focused on the theme of religious liberty.
“The history of the Catholics in the United States is a history of working for religious freedom,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson in his annual report, given Tuesday. “And the work of the Knights of Columbus on behalf of religious freedom is a key part of that history.”
Through his secretary of state, Benedict XVI addressed participants of the convention, urging them to continue their work for religious liberty. The Holy Father also expressed his confidence that they “will continue to lead the laity to counter reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church’s participation in public debate about issues which are determining the future of American society.”
Founded in 1881 by Venerable Michael McGivney, the Knights of Columbus has become the world’s largest Catholic family fraternal service organization, boasting an estimated 1.8 million members. The Supreme Knight of the order reflected on Venerable McGivney and on the first members of the KofC. “[Father McGivney] knew their faith and he knew their aspirations,” Anderson said.
“He knew what they were capable of. I also believe our saintly founder sees into the hearts of his brother Knights today and there he finds those same qualities. One hundred years from now, he will not be surprised by what his brother Knights continue to accomplish.”
Liberty in a time of secularism
The opening Mass of the convention, celebrated by Bishop Tod Brown of Orange, California, reiterated the theme of religious liberty and recalled the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe during turbulent times in Mexico.
“Now, five centuries later, we have our own disturbing times where we face a growing secularism, attacks on the value and gift of human life, attempts to redefine traditional marriage and serious curtailment of our religious rights,” he said.
The American prelate encouraged members of the KofC to continue the fight for religious freedom through the New Evangelization. He also expressed confidence that members of the fraternal organization would be in the front ranks of the evangelizers.
“Like Juan Diego, a layman,” he said, “the success of the New Evangelization will depend on our laity and their involvement. As laity, your lives will act as witness to our faith.”