By John-Henry Westen

TORONTO, January 5, 2006 ( – The Knights of Columbus (KofC), a Catholic fraternal organization which boasts two million members in the United States, Canada and abroad, has sent a letter to its 239,000 members in Canada urging them to vote pro-life and pro-family in the upcoming federal election. The open letter, signed by Deputy Supreme Knight Jean Migneault and Dennis Savoie President of the KofC Canadian Association, strongly reminds the Canadian membership of their duty to vote after making themselves aware of the stands of their candidates.

The KofC bases theirÂdirection to vote pro-life and pro-family on the words of Pope Benedict XVI prior to his elevation to the pontificate. According to the KofC letter, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote a doctrinal note, approved by then-Pope John Paul II, which stated: “[A] well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals.” The doctrinal note added, “laws must defend the basic right to life from conception to natural death . . . Analogously, the family needs to be safeguarded and promoted based on monogamous marriage between a man and a woman.” spoke with Dan Heffernan, the Life and Family Values Chairman for the Ontario State Council of the KofC about the impact of the letter. Heffernan noted that in addition to the 239,000 members in Canada, the KofC letter would also impact their families and friends.“Every knight has a circle of influence which is somewhere between eight and ten people,” said Heffernan.“Therefore there is the potential here to impact a couple of million Canadians.”

“These basic questions about life and marriage are central to the current issues,” says the KofC letter which arrived by mail to most KofC members in Canada this week.“Political leaders, using all their personal convictions must truly serve the common good by crafting legislation respecting freedom of religion and conscience.”

See the full text of theÂletter at