Today is Columbus Day. Later on this month, in just a few short weeks, Fr. Michael J McGivney, founder of our Order, will be beatified. When he founded the Knights of Columbus, our mainly Protestant country was very hostile toward Catholics and Catholic beliefs. It was in this climate that he established the Knights of Columbus to provide financial support for Catholic families who’s breadwinner had died, as well as spiritual aid and fellowship to Catholic men.
So I should be talking about the great things the organization he founded has done, like getting “under God” added to the Pledge of Allegiance, or how many millions of dollars we’ve raised for charities. I should be talking about the miracle that has been attributed to his intercession. I should be talking about Christopher Columbus and his faith, and why Fr. McGivney chose him and his name for our brotherhood. But when I thought of what this country was like in 1882, and what has happened in this country since Fr. McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus… and when I reflected on over just the past six months in particular… I realized something: While we as an organization have grown and expanded and truly become the strong right arm of the Catholic Church with all the charitable work we do… our country is still as anti-Catholic as it ever was. And increasingly, it’s outright anti-Christian. Oh, there might not be the open violence toward us like there was toward the Irish and Italian immigrants around the turn of the 20th century. Instead, it is a softer violence, a political violence, one that we allow to happen. And as I reflected, a line from the 11th Chapter of John’s Gospel came to mind. Jesus had come to Bethany because He had heard Lazarus was deathly ill, and He asked where Lazarus was. They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” And Jesus wept.
Let’s invite our Lord to come and see, shall we? Let us imagine our Lord coming and asking us to show Him what has become of His Church and our nation. And let us reply to Him, “Lord, come and see.”
“Come and see, Lord, the statues of Junípero Sera that were toppled, and the statues of Your mother that were beheaded and desecrated. Come and see, Lord, the churches that were set on fire and spray painted with blasphemy, and the altar that was defiled in New Orleans by the parish’s own Judas priest.” And for all the sacrilege against His Church, Jesus weeps.
“Come and see, Lord, the changes in the Church, where the Four Last Things are no longer taught… where the focus is on Heaven, but not on death or judgement or the realities of an eternal hell… Come and see, Lord, how this has resulted in scores of Casual Catholics.” And for all the people who take neither teaching their faith, nor living their faith seriously, Jesus weeps.
“Come and see, Lord, the true apostles who are shut down, pushed out, and told to shut up because they’re too ‘divisive’ for telling the truth, the truth for which You spilled Your Precious Blood.” And for all the “divisive” truth-tellers who are silenced and the people who silence them, Jesus — the one who came to divide, and the one who will come again to divide the sheep from the goats — indeed, He weeps.
“Come and see, Lord, the Catholics in Name Only politicians who rename abortion ‘reproductive justice’ and mock and ridicule and malign those who fight for life. Come and see, Lord, how some Catholics vote for these politicians, and excuse it away.” And for all those who turn their back on their unborn brothers and sisters, Jesus weeps.
Ultimately, it is for all lost souls that Jesus weeps.
As Knights of Columbus, the principle of the 1st Degree is Charity. Well brothers, as Pope Emeritus Benedict instructed us in his appropriately-named encyclical Caritas in Veritate, not only is charity at the heart of the Church’s social doctrine, the heart of charity is truth. Quote, “To defend the truth, to articulate it with humility and conviction, and to bear witness to it in life are therefore exacting and indispensable forms of charity.” So it is in charity that I am going to tell you the truth.
Last year Archbishop Chaput, in his weekly column, entitled “A New Kind of Sacrament”, informed his readers, quote: “the Wall Street Journal reported … that Biden faced growing criticism from abortion activists and his party’s leadership for his Hyde Amendment track record. Exactly 24 hours later … the same paper noted that Biden had sharply changed his thinking…. Translation: The unborn child means exactly zero in the calculus of power for Democratic Party leaders, and the right to an abortion, once described as a tragic necessity, is now a perverse kind of ‘sacrament most holy.’ It will have a candidate’s allegiance and full-throated reverence… or else.” End quote. Since then, two tenured Democrats have been forced out of their party — by their party — because of their pro-life position.
The Catholic Church has never wavered in her teaching that abortion is always and everywhere under all circumstances a grave evil. Yet there are Catholics in name only who will defy all manner of reason and logic and vote for Joe Biden who not only doesn’t hide his agenda, but who said only one week ago, quote: “the only responsible response to [the confirmation of judge Amy Barrett to the Supreme Court] would be to pass legislation making Roe the law of the land. That’s what I would do.” Yes, the shameful hard truth is that there are people who call themselves Catholics who will happily cast their vote for this man who tries to win votes by loudly proclaiming his Catholic faith one day, thens turn around and abandons it the next day when it’s politically advantageous. Joe Biden clearly admitted he will advocate for a law that is contrary to his faith — our faith — and with his chosen running mate Kamala Harris (who doesn’t hide her contempt for Catholics, the Knights of Columbus, and the pro-life movement,) together they will get millions of votes from people who have the audacity to call themselves Catholics.
So just a thought, Brother Knights: how can any of us as Knights of Columbus, who are expected to be Catholics in good standing in full communion with the Holy See, vote for such a pro-culture-of-death politician? Who among us can do such a thing, then turn around the next day and face our brother Knights and fellow Christians who go to pray at an abortion mill that is killing babies under the protection of the very same politician they just voted for? The shortest distance between the points of pro-death and pro-life is the line to the ballot box. But just casting the correct ballot isn’t enough.
In 2016, Archbishop Chaput gave an address in Boston where he spoke about the kind of people the Catholic Church needs. He said, quote: “For [Pope Emeritus] Benedict, laypeople and priests don’t need to publicly renounce their baptism to be apostates. They simply need to be silent when their Catholic faith demands that they speak out; to be cowards when Jesus asks them to have courage; to ‘stand away’ from the truth when they need to work for it and fight for it.”
In writing this lecture I had a tough decision to make. A decision that was over a month in the making. I could try and use language that would suggest a certain course of action without being direct. But more and more that felt like mincing words would be disingenuous. More to the point, it felt like I would be effectively silent when my Catholic Faith demands that I speak out. Trying to skirt the issue and hope everyone gets what I’m trying to say kept feeling more and more like silence, and, as Archbishop Chaput instructed us, silence in the face of evil is apostasy. Far be it from me to be a silent apostate. So let me put this into practical terms: We don’t have to support these pro-death candidates directly. We don’t have to vote for them or campaign for them. We don’t even have to put up a yard sign. No. Brother Knights, when we are silent in the face of evil, when we are silent when our brother Knights are maligned for being members of this great Catholic organization, when we are silent when the maligners find their way onto a presidential ticket, when we are silent when someone who claims to be Catholic officiates a homosexual wedding, says that he would force the Little Sisters of the Poor to pay for birth control, and then proudly advances the pro-death agenda of Planned Parenthood for the sake of gaining political office… When we are silent in the face of this evil, the very evil we Knights of Columbus should be fighting against… when we are silent… and souls of innocent lives are lost… we are deserters of our faith. And the word for that, is apostasy.
Maybe you think I’m blowing things out of proportion. Maybe you think it’s not that big of a deal. Maybe you think I’m taking the Archbishop and the Pope out of context. If that’s what you think, then I encourage you to open your Bible to the book of the Apocalypse, chapter 21, where we read that the cowards, the unfaithful, and the murderers, “their lot is in the burning pool of fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
Bother Knights, do not be one of those who are deathly ill in their faith. This is not a time to be a coward. This is not a time to be unfaithful. This is not a time to cast our lot in with murderers of children. Our Catholic faith demands that we speak out. Father McGivney would want you to speak out. Do not be a silent apostate. Do not be one of those who can’t even muster the words, “Come and see, Lord” out of shame for their own apostate silence. In your heart, you know that if you do… Jesus weeps.
Our Lady of Fatima… pray for us.
Editor’s Note: The views represented are solely those of the author, and does not represent an official endorsement or opposition of any candidate or party by the Knights of Columbus or Knights of Columbus Council 11445.