Pope Francis met with a delegation from the Knights of Columbus in the Vatican Monday, thanking them for their “faithful witness to the sacredness and dignity of human life.”
The delegation, led by Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson, was on pilgrimage to Rome for the 100th anniversary of the Knights’ charitable activity in Rome, which began after Pope Benedict XV invited the Knights to provide humanitarian aid in Rome following the First World War.
“The Knights responded generously, establishing sports centres for youth that quickly became places for education, catechesis and the distribution of food and other essentials so needed at that time,” the pope said in his address, following the vision of their founder, Michael McGivney, “who was inspired by the principles of Christian charity and fraternity to assist those most in need.”
“Today the Knights of Columbus continue their work of evangelical charity and fraternity in a variety of fields,” Francis continued. “I think in particular of your faithful witness to the sacredness and dignity of human life, evident at both the local and national levels.”
The Knights commitment to human life has also led them to aid the “Christian communities in the Middle East that are suffering the effects of violence, war and poverty,” the pontiff said.
“I thank all the members of your Order for seeing in our persecuted and displaced brothers and sisters of that region neighbours for whom you are a sign of God’s infinite love,” he said.
It was the pro-life activity of the Knights of Columbus underscored by Pope Francis on Monday that so raised the ire of Senate democrats in late 2018.
During the Senate Judiciary hearing of Brian C. Buescher, a Trump appointee to the U.S. District Court of Nebraska, Pro-choice Democrats attacked Buescher for his membership in the Knights of Columbus, suggesting that this affiliation might disqualify him for judgeship.
The senators suggested that the Knights’ opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage could cloud the candidate’s vision and impair his judgment.
Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) asked whether belonging to the Knights of Columbus could prevent Mr. Buescher from hearing cases “fairly and impartially.”
The Knights of Columbus have taken “a number of extreme positions,” Sen. Hirono stated in written questions sent to Buescher on December 5, such as contributing “to California’s Proposition 8 campaign to ban same-sex marriage.”
For her part, Sen. Harris asked Buescher whether he was aware that the Knights of Columbus “opposed a woman’s right to choose” and were against “marriage equality” when he joined the organization.
Another pro-choice Senator, Cory Booker (D-NJ), underscored Mr. Buescher’s vocal opposition to abortion when he was running for Nebraska attorney general in the Republican primary election.
“Why should a litigant in your courtroom expect to get a fair hearing from an impartial judge in a case involving abortion rights?” Sen. Booker asked.
A spokesperson for the Knights of Columbus, Kathleen Blomquist, decried the anti-Catholic bias implicit in the senators’ questions.
“Our country’s sad history of anti-Catholic bigotry contributed to the founding of the Knights of Columbus, and we are proud of the many Catholics who overcame this hurdle to contribute so greatly to our country,” Blomquist said.