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Why I’m not longer a Knight May 21, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in General Catholic, Society.

I used to be in the Knights of Columbus.  I’m still a member, because I got guilted into paying dues for this year, but I’m not active anymore.  At one time, I was quite active, but I lost interest several years ago for a variety of reasons.  While the individual council I belonged to had many fine men and did a great deal of good work, I didn’t feel doing group charitable work was my calling.  Plus, the drinking at the council meetings wasn’t the best environment for an alcoholic/addict like me.  A few years ago I started teaching apologetics, and I feel like this is far more my calling – defending the Faith, exhorting the faithful, and working to provide a stronger knowledge of the Faith among Catholics and non-Catholics.  This motivates me  – grilling hot dogs for the altar server’s dinner does not.

There’s another reason.  There are many pro-abort politicians and other public figures who are allowed to remain Knights in good standing, even though they support something the Knight’s are supposed to be strongly opposed to.  Recently, some individual KoC councils have tried to remove these types of men from the Knights, men like our Vice President, and the Knight’s highest leadership has refused to allow them to do so.   According to Phil Lawler at Catholic Culture, the reasoning given by the Knights is that these men have not been excommunicated by their bishops, so why should the Knights remove them from their organization?  Wouldn’t that be……wait for it……inappropriate

Lawler points out that this excuse is nonsense.  The Knight’s aren’t excommunicating anyone, they haven’t the ability to do so.  The Knight’s are a private group who can let in and exclude whomever they wish.  In fact, when a man’s conduct is such that he no longer hold’s true the core beliefs of the Knights, that a man should defend his family and be the strong, faithful leader of same, he is no longer to be considered a member in good standing.  Any man who advocates abortion would seem to be failing in these roles. 

As I said at the top, I know many good men in the Knight’s, and they do alot of good work.  But the senior leadership of the Knight’s appears to be playing a political game here – they don’t want to attract the ire of those politicians who use their membership in the Knight’s to try to sell their ‘wholesome’ image.  But, the senior leadership should recognize that allowing the membership of these types of people to stand will do harm to the organization.  It’s difficult to see the Knight’s as being serious about their professed beliefs when they include high profile members who act counter to those beliefs at every turn.

UPDATE: Thomas Peter’s adds his sentiments at Catholic Vote Action.  I’ll expand a little on where Peters is going – I don’t think the KoC have been well served by Carl Anderson as Supreme Knight.  Unlike alot of Knight’s, I actually read their monthly magazine Columbia, and many of Anderson’s comments therein have disturbed me.  He appears to be trying to take the Knight’s in the direction of many charitable organizations, towards a more leftist agenda than many KoC members would be comfortable with.


1. Agnieszka - May 21, 2010

Thanks for this interesting post.
My husband doesn’t belong to the organization, and I’ve been always a little suspicious about the guys who mainly do Pancake Breakfasts, social outings, and rarely speak up about any important issues (or do they?).
They just have to have a better excuse to wear a fancy (?) uniform once in awhile.

tantamergo - May 21, 2010

The individual Councils are full of very good guys, trying to do good works. I’m not as impressed with the national leadership.

2. Daria - May 21, 2010

I understand that pancake breakfasts might not be your thing. There’s not mine either. Quite frankly (no pun intended) I don’t think anyone really likes grilling hotdogs for fundraisers.

But I’ve seen more good come out of KC men humbling taking part in parish events – in my parish’s case, it turned into thousands for crisis pregnancy centers and lives saved.

Councils are as various as families are. And for this, I’m really sorry your experience was poor. But there are other councils. The council at my parish has hosted great speakers on everything from apologetics to biblical study to bioethics.

As for me, I’d prefer my parish’s council continue the good work — and not waste time creating another committee for pebbling local politicians with membership papers they signed years ago.

tantamergo - May 21, 2010

That’s certainly a fair sentiment. It’s not one I agree with, but I can see where your coming from.

I should reiterate that I think your average KoC Council is doing very good work. It’s just that it’s not my particular calling as I’ve discerned it.

One other thing – you do have to actively take steps to remain a member. It’s not a question of someone having signed up 20 years ago and is still considered a member – you have to pay dues. Some politicians do try to prove their faithful Catholic bona fides by saying “I’ve been a Knight for 14 years” or whatever. I think it should be up to the individual councils. I see the national leadership trying to cover their rears.

3. Patrick Korten - May 22, 2010

Patrick S. Korten
Vice President for Communications
Knights of Columbus Supreme Council

The Knights of Columbus has always urged its members to live in a way completely consistent with Catholic teaching on all issues. We are proudly and unambiguously pro-life and have been at the forefront of the effort to protect marriage. Though we are saddened that not all of our members always live up to the Catholic faith, we are grateful that the vast majority do, and that they do so much good for the Church and society. Our councils have a chaplain, a Catholic priest, to ensure that the Knights of the council are educated in the tenets of the Catholic faith. In short, our beliefs are those of the Church, with no additions and no subtractions.

Since our founding by Father Michael J. McGivney in 1882, membership in the Knights has been open to Catholic men at least 18 years of age who are “practical (that is, practicing) Catholics” in union with the Holy See. We leave the determination of who is a “practical” Catholic to the Church, and do not presume to substitute our own judgment for that of the bishop of each diocese. If the bishop considers a man to be a practicing Catholic in good standing, the Order does not attempt to second-guess his decision.

Once a man becomes a brother Knight, our principles of charity, unity and fraternity require that we regard him as a brother in all respects, even when he may stray from the teachings of the Church. Our responsibility in such circumstances is to try to help him embrace the fullness of the Catholic faith.

As the largest Catholic family fraternal service organization in the world, the Knights of Columbus is a strongly pro-life, pro-marriage organization, irrespective of the views of a tiny minority of our members, just as is the case with the Catholic Church. Our policy in these areas is stated with absolute clarity at each of our annual conventions and is widely circulated to members and the general public.

We have been a mainstay of the pro-life movement since well before Roe v. Wade was handed down by the Supreme Court in 1973, and strongly supported the successful effort by brother Knight Henry Hyde to legislatively prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortions.

We ask each of our more than 13,000 councils to conduct pro-life activities each year, and we are proud that the great majority do so, providing the backbone of the grassroots pro-life movement in the United States and many other countries as well.

Our financial support, and thousands of volunteer hours from our members, make the annual March for Life in Washington possible. The same is true of the growing number of state marches for life, as well as in the Canadian capital of Ottawa and in provincial capitals all across Canada.

In our newest pro-life project, the Knights of Columbus has already purchased 25 ultrasound machines at a cost of nearly $1 million, for placement in pro-life pregnancy resource centers in 15 states. These ultrasound machines are saving lives every day and our goal is to place hundreds of these machines across the country.

The Order provides major support to the Pro-Life Office of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as to the Catholic Organization for Life and Family, a joint project of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Knights of Columbus.

Knights by the thousands have been at the forefront of the successful efforts to enact constitutional amendments protecting marriage in every one of the 30 states which have adopted them.

In short, the Knights of Columbus has been making a real, significant difference in both the pro-life and pro-marriage areas for decades, and that is the true measure of our identity and our determination to support these fundamental tenets of the Catholic faith. It is a powerful, affirmative, broad-based effort that is strongly supported by the overwhelming majority of our 1.8 million members on three continents.

There are those who believe that our time, resources and energy could be better spent hunting down a handful of members who constitute the rare exception. We disagree.

4. tantamergo - May 24, 2010

Sorry, this doesn’t get it. In fact, this piece is insulting. It’s nothing but subterfuge. No one is advocating ‘hunting down’ members – what was requested, by individual councils, was to discipline high-profile members that are visibly misrepresenting the Catholic faith, or taking stances on important issues opposed to the doctrine of the faith. The senior leadership of the Knights have taken positive action from allowing councils to remove such members. Now, I am a Knight, and I know that Councils are supposed to have the ability to determine who, and who will not, be members. But, apparently, the Knights have two sets of rules – Joe Schmo can get run out of a council for knocking up his girlfriend, but Joe Biden gets to remain a Knight in good standing in spite of being pro-abort, and repeatedly misrepresenting Church doctrine on life issues.

As I said previously, I am increasingly convinced the senior leadership of KoC is disconnected from its membership and is not representing the vast majority of KoC members well.

5. More on the Knights « A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics - May 24, 2010

[…] release from the Knight’s VP of Communications Patrick Korten.  It’s attached to my previous post.   The press release itself is quite insulting – the entire construct is a logical fallacy […]

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