Wednesday May 12, 2010
K of C Cancels Pro-Abort NARAL Event after Priests Resign in Protest
By Kathleen Gilbert
PORTSMOUTH, New Hampshire, May 12, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A fundraiser for abortion lobby giant NARAL, slated to occur at a New Hampshire function center jointly owned by the Knights of Columbus, has been cancelled after two priests resigned from the local chapter of the Catholic fraternity in protest, reports the Portsmouth Herald.
Local Catholics reacted in shock after it was discovered that NARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire was scheduled to hold the event, titled “Choice Chocolate 2010: Celebrating Your Choice for 25 Years,” at the Casey Function Center, which is a Knights of Columbus Council 00140 entity.
After the news broke, Rev. Michael Kerper, pastor of Portsmouth’s Corpus Christi Parish, issued a statement saying that he would immediately resign from the local chapter of the Knights, together with parochial vicar Rev. Marcos Gonzalez.
“Some faithful Catholics may assume that the decision to rent the hall to NARAL means that members of the Knights of Columbus, including us, are indifferent to NARAL’s stated purposes,” said Kerper in a statement cited by the Herald. “As a result, we find ourselves compelled to resign immediately from Council 140.”
National officers had learned of the event over the weekend, and it has since been cancelled, said Patrick Korten, vice president of communications for the Knights, to the local news service. Korten acknowledged that the Knights urge chapters with function halls to protect against arrangements with organizations in conflict with the Catholic faith, and that “this event was very much at odds with that.”
Korten blamed the decision on the facility manager’s status as “relatively new on the job.” But Richard Spead, the president of the Casey Home Association, said he has been at his post nine months and insisted that the function hall had been consistently used “without regard to any political or religious beliefs or otherwise.”
Saying that he would rent to any group because “that’s what it means to be a good Christian,” Spead told the Herald that steps were being taken to sever the function hall from the Knights of Columbus – and that he, a Knight himself, intends on withdrawing from the organization and possibly the Catholic Church.
Spead called it “hypocrisy” that the Catholic church concerned itself over the issue of hosting a pro-abortion group while, in the words of the Herald, “it continually pays little to no consideration to problems with pedophilia within the church.”
NARAL interim executive director Pilar Olivo told the Herald that the group was disappointed over the cancellation, but would not fight the decision.
In remarks to LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) Korten bashed Spead’s accusation of hypocrisy as an “outrageous statement.” “We have a very clearly stated policy that he chose to ignore,” he said.
Korten also clarified to LSN that the division between the function hall and the Knights was not “a matter that was settled or resolved.” The bylaws operating such facilities, he said, “cannot be changed just because one guy says we’re going to change it.”
Regarding the priests who resigned, Korten said that “we certainly hope that there will be” reconciliation – although he added that he was unsure whether the priests withdrew from the entire organization, or the local council only.
According to C.J. Doyle, the executive director of Massachusetts’ Catholic Action League, the near-scandal was far from an isolated case with the Knights.
“The Knights of Columbus has to have a pro-life position that is more than academic and rhetorical,” Doyle told LSN, noting that the organization has previously caused scandal by allowing pro-abortion public figures to join their ranks, and offering venues to pro-abortion entities, in conflict with their own policies.
“When somebody reports it or exposes it, then retroactively they will enforce the policy,” said Doyle. “How can you have a Catholic, allegedly pro-life organization when the members themselves seem so willing to make these compromises?”
“This policy ought to be pre-emptive and preventative, and instead it’s reactive and retrospective.”
He urged both the national and local levels of the Knights become “thoroughly and authentically pro-life.” “They need to have a policy that is really enforced vigorously, and doesn’t require somebody to dime them out,” Doyle added.