The Knights of Columbus is a Catholic fraternal men's group that must be admired for its high-profile, pro-life work. They serve as marshals for the March for Life in January, fund a number of pro-life projects including the purchase of sonogram machines for pregnancy help centers, and distribute masses of pro-life literature. All of this pro-life work, however, is compromised by their utter refusal to address the problem of allowing publicly pro-abortion politicians to remain in their midst and commit grave public scandal without consequence. In many cases, the passage of pro-abortion legislation at the state and national levels can be laid directly at the feet of pro-abortion Knights.
Their brother Knights who object and call for implementation of the by-laws requiring suspension or explulsion for scandal are often treated as the enemy by officers at the local, state, and national levels. Those leaders claim that the Knights can only expel a member if he is excommunicated by his bishop. But now there is a short and compelling little book that challenges that red-herring and calls on the Knights to practice what they preach.
James G. Bruen in Errant Knight: the Scandal of ProChoice Knights, recounts the only case I'm aware of where a pro-choice politician was disciplined for publicly and blatantly promoting abortion during a political campaign. It took place in 1991 when Catholic Mike Dwyre ran for the Virginia House of Delegates on a pro-abortion platform against a pro-life non-Catholic. This short work clearly describes the charitable efforts of a group of Knights to urge their brother to repent and call on the Knights' leadership to walk the pro-life walk when it requires difficult decisions.
A particularly compelling element of the book is an exchange of letters between the author and John Cardinal O'Connor who was head of the bishops' pro-life committee at the time, although he did not respond in that capacity. In his letter the cardinal called the argument often put forth that the Knights can't do anything unless the hierarchy excommunicates the member a "red herring." He supported the actions of the local council and repudiated the use of his name to imply his approval for protecting Dwyre. Cardinal O'Connor ended his letter to Bruen saying, "I admire your courage, your concern and your highly professional statement of the case as you see it. My very warmest thanks for sending it to me."
All Catholics are called to fight against evil in the Church Militant. And so it is encouraging to know that, once upon a time, a courageous group of Knights from a local council took action against an treacherous Knight in their midst. They defended the faith and successfully called their errant brother to account. St. Paul would have approved. Sadly, the K of C bureaucracy did not. They responded in a shameful way by changing the rules to make it more difficult to discipline scandalous Knights.
Bruen concludes, accurately I believe, that the Knight's leadership "seem more interested in selling insurance or in claiming prominent politicians as members than they are in giving unblemished witness to the sanctity of human life." Sadly, the scandal of enabling pro-abortion Knights has continued for the two decades since Mike Dwyre was indefinitely suspended from his local council in Chantilly, VA. And there's no sign of change at National despite the accelerating moral disintegration of our culture with the assault on traditional marriage, also advanced by Knight-politicians.
As a Knight's lady, I believe it is high time the Knights acted like men and defended the least ones, the tiny babies in the wombs of their mothers waiting to be born. They are the images of the little infant Jesus and His cousin John meeting with such joy at Mary's visitation to Elizabeth. Obviously, any action taken against a pro-abortion Knight must occur at the local level. But the national and state leadership should encourage such action rather than throw up roadblocks. To treat those who love the least ones as enemies while coddling those whose souls are in danger is a cowardly action that makes a mockery of the very name "Knight."
Until such time as national and state leaders encourage local councils to take action against pro-abortion Knights, I believe entire councils should withdraw from the Knights of Columbus. They can work as local parish men's groups until the Knights' leadership takes seriously their obligation to protect the babies from errant Knights who work to slay them on the altar of political expediency.
Bruen's e-book is available at Amazon. Make this book a best-seller and send it to every Knight in your parish. It's encouraging to know that once upon a time, there was a courageous group of chivalrous Knights who went into battle for the little ones who can't fight for themselves.
Mary Ann Kreitzer is a founder of the Catholic Media Coalition. See her blog here.