Thursday May 20, 2010

Knights of Columbus Rejection of Request to Expel Pro-Abort Knights Receives Criticism

By Kathleen Gilbert and Steve Jalsevac

BOSTON, Massachusetts, May 20, 2010 ( – The Knights of Columbus have confirmed that local councils do not have the authority to take action against members of the group that support abortion or same-sex “marriage.” The policy is receiving some criticism for seemingly contradicting the Knights’ leading role in recent years in efforts to defend the unborn and traditional marriage.

The policy clarification came in response to a Massachusetts member of the K of C who proposed a resolution calling for the suspension of any member who publicly dissented from the Catholic Church’s teaching on life and family. The resolution was intended for consideration at a convention of the Massachusetts Knights of Columbus.

John Marrella, the Supreme Advocate and General Counsel of the Knights of Columbus, told the leadership of the local group that “a subordinate council may not impose fraternal discipline with respect to a public figure’s official actions on matters pertaining to faith and morals. Rather, any such discipline must be made by or at the direction of the Supreme Board of Directors,” according to Catholic World News.

While public advocacy of abortion and same-sex “marriage” “contradicts the Catholic identity and mission of the Order,” said Marrella, moving against such members would “necessarily affect the entire Order” and therefore should be a decision reserved for the highest leaders.

In addition, Marrella said the Knights would not go further than American bishops in publicly condemning a dissident member of the Church: “If the public figure’s bishop has not excommunicated him for his public positions on issues relating to matters of faith and morals, it would be highly inappropriate for the Knights of Columbus to do so.”

C.J. Doyle of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts criticized the decision, noting that the Knights have “never expelled a single [pro-abortion Knight] in 37 years, since Roe v. Wade.”

“This essentially kills any grassroots initiative in the Knights of Columbus to get rid of the pro-abortion politicians in the K of C,” Doyle told Thursday.

Thomas Peters of the influential American Papist and blog also expressed concern over the Knights’ policy. Peters called it “a big mistake,” adding that “Marella’s argument confuses the Knights of Columbus with the Church. Being expelled from the Knights of Columbus, after all, is simply not the same as being excommunicated from the Church or being barred from receiving Communion by the local bishop.”

Peters is himself a Third Degree knight. He wrote today, “I love the Knights of Columbus, but in this situation, I believe their leadership needs to seriously rethink this decision, and begin the brave task of holding its membership to the high standards each of them swore to uphold upon entering.” He encouraged Supreme Knight Carl Anderson to “consider implementing a charitable process for asking dissenting members to reconsider membership in the Knights.”

See related LifeSiteNews reports:

Knights of Columbus Calls Pro-Gay “Marriage” Knights “Embarrassing”

Supreme Knight of Columbus Calls for Real “Change” on Abortion and Catholic Revolt against Obama Nation

Head of Knights of Columbus Joins Catholic Leaders Rebuking “Catholic” Biden for Abortion Comments

Knights of Columbus Forced to Pay Damages to Lesbians for Refusing to Rent Hall for “Wedding” Reception