Sunday, November 09, 2008


More on the failure of the Knights of Columbus
The handwriting has been on the wall for years

Three and a half years ago, during the days immediately following the death of Pope John Paul II, I could no longer deny that something was wrong. At my Parish, the priest (who enjoyed the privileges of the Indult back in the days before Summorum Pontificum) was offering a traditional Latin Requiem followed by public recitation of the Rosary every evening between the day of the pope's death and his funeral. In spite of the fact that the whole Church was supposed to be in a state of public mourning, on Wednesday evening of that week, we were scheduled to have our regular, monthly Knight's of Columbus Council "business" meeting. The problem of which I became aware that night struck me in the heart like a fake sword when I emerged from the church after the Rosary and saw that in the Parish Hall across the street, all the lights were on, the parking lot was full of cars, and the K of C meeting seemed to be already in progress! This meant that not only was there no prayerful show of mourning from my council by postponing their usually fruitless meeting, but they had not even bothered to assist at Mass or the Rosary for the repose of the soul of their pope! It was at that moment that I knew something was wrong. Something was very, VERY wrong with the modern-day "Knights" of Columbus.

During recent years, time and time again, the K of C have shown themselves to be completely out of touch with their own origins, mandate, and especially with their professed Catholic Faith. Individual Councils often become a stumbling block rather than an assisting arm of priests who want to help them be true KNIGHTS. One wonders whether or not the best course of action (at the level of the parish) would be to cut losses, have the council disbanded or let the pastor relegate the council to wasting time, electricity (and oxygen?) on some other property rather than that of the parish, and attempt to form something wholely new which would actually help many of the truly fervent men to find something to sustain them in their roles as the spiritual head of their households as holier husbands, fathers, and actual "Catholic Gentlemen."

No doubt, there are some councils who have tried and are still trying (with the leadership of the pastor and the occasional exemplary Grand Knight) to form themselves into a band of knightly brothers who fight for the True Faith without fear or shame. God knows this is the time for such men! Yet, there exists ad nauseam distractions and pressure from above to drain a council's energy and resources (human and otherwise) forcing them to participate in ineffectual programs and events (e.g., "free-throw" competitions for the youth... give me a break!)

I know a priest who has put more effort than anyone knows into transforming his parish's K of C council into something Fr. McGivney would recognize with the help of many of the proven men in the Parish who have become knights simply because Father asked them to do so. What happened as a result? Many of the older, do-nothing, slack-jawed Roman Protestants in plumes got pouty and stomped off in a huff to a neighboring Parish's council where they could band together unfettered in their hatred of their rightful pastor and lick their wounds collectively. So be it. Good riddance to bad rubbish. Cut the dead wood. Cull the herd.

And would you like to guess what the sole point of discontent was? No - not that Father had replaced the old "Dons" with young bucks who actually wanted to live good Catholic lives. No - not the Father lacked interest or wasn't supportive of their little council. Over a period of years, the passive aggressive nature of many of my so-called brother "knights" became apparent as their collective, underhanded fury grew more and more toxic because the despicable, tyrannical pastor actually had the nerve to require these "knights" (those who were able to do so), to attend the daily Mass offered in the Church prior to the meeting. Oh - and the worst part of Father's grave offense to these Catholic "gentlemen" was that the Mass he offered before their council meetings was the Traditional Latin Mass.

How dare he? Who did he think he was?

At one meeting, the district deputy actually challenged publicly, the parish priest and council chaplain in having such an over-the-top expectation of the "Knights" that they should assist at Mass on a day other than Sunday which, after all, is their only obligation. The district deputy, who was removed shortly thereafter due to Father's complaint to the state deputy, actually raised his voice...to a priest...in a K of C meeting. Unbelievable.

Yes, worthy sirs, something is very, VERY wrong - and the air in Denmark has been smelling foul for a long time. The 4th degree honor guards have even been forbidden by the "Supreme" council to present their salute at the Consecration during Mass - even if the priest requests that they do this.

After reading about the K of C for Obama, I wonder if priests, and men of a parish who are so inclined, should retire the gavels, put away the medals, and turn out the lights on the failed Knights of Columbus; a once thriving organization whose time has clearly passed.

Plus, I could probably come up with something much more effective and knightly than fake feathers, tuxes, and capes. Chain maille, steel visors, and Crusader tunics over sackcloth comes to mind.

19 Comments:

Blogger QuantaCura01 said...

WOW. Did we used to belong to the same council?? Not uncommon to go to a meeting and see a good number of cars in the lot of the hall with Obama stickers. If the council meeting night was on the same night as a Lakers or Raiders game, forget it everyone stayed home. As for fraternity, how many times was the only Knight at a rosary the guy in the coffin. Sadly, the Knights have turne dinto a beer drinking mens club. They are not what Fr. McGinvey invisioned.

3:45 AM  
Blogger Jomo said...

2 questions

Is Obama a mason and?

what's the point of a catholic pseudo-masonic outfit like the Knights?

7:54 AM  
Blogger Leo XIII said...

The council in my parish fizzled out after a few years of aimless meetings. But then, the parish itself is fizzling out due to its contraceptive mentality. There just aren't any kids. The place is full of chubby, gray-hairs who won't contribute much of anything.

I think the goals of the KofC are admirable, but the ranks are replete with Roman Protestants who like wearing feather hats and carrying phony swords.j

9:55 AM  
Blogger Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin said...

jomo, did you not read the post? I can't answer your first question (and in truth, I don't really much care whether Obama has abosorbed teaching from yet ANOTHER source that contradicts the Church), but as to the second:

"help many of the truly fervent men to find something to sustain them in their roles as the spiritual head of their households as holier husbands, fathers, and actual "Catholic Gentlemen.""

Cavey, the Knights of Columbus are not yet entirely without honor. Many continue to wage the good and just fight for life. I was so proud of you (among the rest of them) when I heard your embryonic heartbeat spot on talk radio.

Nor are they anywhere near beyond God's power to redeem and restore. To believe so is to despair, and thus to deny the almighty power of God. It is a trick of the devil to think so! And it's a trick he only uses to weaken his strongest enemies. What good comes when Catholics decide that the Knights of Columbus, or the Society of Jesus, is no longer able to serve God's purpose and they no longer help such men or keep them in their prayers?

After all, isn't that what Martin Luther did, only writ large -- to decide, all by himself, that the Church was beyond redemption, and that the world was better off if it was scrapped?

Nothing is beyond God's power to redeem and make holy. The history of the Church is full of men who saw the need for rebuilding, renewal, and faithful leadership, and begged God to serve Him by being His instrument in providing those blessings. I pray that for the Knights of Columbus, you are that man.

St. Francis of Assisi is one of the foremost examples, and it's hard to find a holier man to emulate. If you do take up this cross, I strongly suspect that your greatest trials will always be treating men of high office and low standards or morals with respect, especially while correcting them. (The doctrines to follow come from Mt 18:15-20, and it's a tough row to hoe.)

Read some of the things you've written about Roger Cardinal Mahoney, or Fr. Bob Kus, or Fr. Peter Dresser, or the USCCB, and ask yourself: If I had seen somebody else take this tone, talking about a clergyman I knew nothing about, on a matter I knew nothing about, would I be upset with the complete lack of respect shown?

10:29 AM  
Blogger Vetus Melius Est said...

Quantacura01,

I think this is pretty much the story of every council.

VME


Jomo,

I don't know whether or not Obama is a Mason, but it wouldn't surprise me. The more Mason-esque the Knights of Columbus have become, the more irrelevant they are, as the original plan was not to create a Catholic alternative to Masonry. Canon Law states explicitly that Catholics may not belong to "secret organizations."
Comparing them to Masons is actually giving them too much credit in my opinion. The Masons (and I am no friend of freemasonry) actually seem to understand why they exist, have much better organization, and are more cohesive in their (misguided) politics than the K of C. What's more, they don't attempt to present themselves as a supportive structure of top-notch "gentlemen" within one Church or eccelsiastical institution. The Masons at least have the integrity to function for the most part as their own religion. The Knights can't do this and remain within the Church, so they play dress-up and pretend some importance which they clearly have lost. But hey! They still sell some great insurance.... ;-)

VME

10:43 AM  
Blogger Vetus Melius Est said...

Arkanabar,

You speak well of the success of some reform removements within the Church throughout Her history.
The point is not that the Knights of Columbus are beyond redemption and need to be "scrapped" necessarily, but whether they, as an organization within the Church, have gone so far afield of their original mandate as to be of any real service to the decreasing number of men within the ranks who actually want to take their Faith seriously.

I simply wonder if there is some structure other than the K of C out there which would be more effective in strengthening and sustaining the men of a parish who desire to be the spiritual heads of the "domestic Church" God has called them to be - and the pillars within the parish their priest needs them to be.

We have to face facts. The Knights of Columbus is typically the only men's organization to be found within a given parish. So, is this organization - as it currently stands - of any relevance to the men in a parish who want to be better Catholic men? It can be - but is it?

Perhaps it is just time for something new - for instance: the Knights of Pius X, or the Knights of Benedict XVI, or simply a parish chapter of "Catholic Cavemen" - Viri Catholici Speluncæ (Latin correctness not promised).

VME

11:05 AM  
Blogger Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin said...

VME,

point taken. While many reforms were started within existing orders, likely as many if not more were started in new ones. The question then becomes whether it's better to work with what you have, and overcome its faults, or start something new, with all the work that entails.

And I should have noticed it was your post, and not VSC's.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Volpius Leonius said...

It seems the problem is the same one blighting the Church itself, they have put quantity above quality.

They have a any thing goes attitude to discipline because they would rather have useless bodies inflating the membership numbers and I suppose paying donations than try and promote excellence and so risk driving the uncommitted undisciplined members out.

Sure 1000 looks better than 100 on paper but if those 1000 are mainly a rabble who need to be carried by the few good members then better to have the 100.

Aren't knights supposed to be elite? If they are not challenging their members to be better soldiers of Christ then what is the point?

1:05 PM  
Blogger Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin said...

VME,

I just went back & read Cavey's post wrt "Knights for Obama" & the comments thereto. I have had to conclude that the KofC were once a proud movement resisting anti-Catholicism. But like most resistance movements (such as the IRA, resisting British occupation, and the Mafia, resisting French occupation, and the KKK, resisting Union occupation, and Civil Rights Movement, resisting Jim Crow laws, not to mention the Tongs and the Yakuza), they are stumbling towards being a (relatively benign) protection racket, interested only in the money they can get.

My free-market competition loving instincts tell me that they and the Church would be better served by competition than monopoly and support. And reading Humanae Vitae and promising to live and support its principles should be the bedrock of Knights of Pope Paul VI.

2:08 PM  
Blogger ignorant redneck said...

I have never even considered being a K of C. Not with the people who were Knights that I knew when i was young, or the ones I know now, with a couple of glowingly excellent examples.

I think we should start the Militia of St. Michael--and not be namby-pamby about Catholicism, manliness or frankly devout loyalty.

2:11 PM  
Blogger Former Altar Boy said...

This post and the ealier one about Knights for Obama plus the several comments to each have convinced me there are better things I can do with my time and money then joing the KofC, someting I have considered for some time. Some of the comments remind me of my last meeting as a member of the Thomas More Society. There was a discussion whether our chapter should publicly endorse an anti-abortion statement put out by the California bishops. The fact that the question even had to be asked was puzzling enough, but the clincher was when one guy said we shouldn't take a position on someting that reasonable persons can disagree (yikes!) and our chaplain (the Judicial Vicar for the diocese, no less!!) say there and said nothing.

Arkanabar,
Yes, no person or group is beyond redemption, but numerous religious orders have disappeared over the centuries for failure to live up to their original intent. So it might be for the KofC.

2:53 PM  
Blogger Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

Read some of the things you've written about Roger Cardinal Mahoney, or Fr. Bob Kus, or Fr. Peter Dresser, or the USCCB, and ask yourself: If I had seen somebody else take this tone, talking about a clergyman I knew nothing about, on a matter I knew nothing about, would I be upset with the complete lack of respect shown?

ATI,
I believe I've always made it abundantly clear that I repect the office, but the man earns respect.

If you view that I've treated any of the above mentioned individuals with a lack of respect... you're right. Mainly due to their acts having very little respectability.

6:18 PM  
Blogger Athos said...

Consider joining us at Corpus Christianum. Cheers

6:20 PM  
Blogger TCN said...

http://www.knightsofdivinemercy.com/

My husband is one, and oh my gosh do they walk the walk. Their first goal is holiness, and the rest they really can't tell me--they'd have to kill me. :)

This is the brainchild of Fr. Heilman in Pine Bluff, WI, and Bishop Morlino considers the knights his own. I give up my husband's time of First Friday evenings and in return I get a husband to make all other wives jealous.

E-mail Fr. Heilman and ask when he is going to franchise this thing. It can't be too soon.

9:46 PM  
Blogger Kit said...

The K of C chapter in my area is, from what I've seen and who I know within it, a breeding ground for vice and corruption. Shady "businessmen" who lie, cheat and steal from the greater community, as well as a just enough of a handful of law enforcement types (constabulary, attys and even a judge or two)that these snaky men get away with all sorts of smarmy stuff. I sat in court and watched a "brother Knight" judge allow a "brother Knight" crooked contractor off the hook for blatant fraud against a paying customer. Every lawyer in the courtroom, even the "brother Knight" who was representing the slimeball, was shocked.

All of the true gentlemen Knights, including my f-i-l, left the chapter by the mid-1980's. As he puts it, his time is much better spent helping the local chapter of the Marine Corps League (he is very proud to admit he made Sgt. 3 times during his 5 year stint back in the '50's!) Speaking of which....

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CAVEY AND ALL YOU MARINES!

Your birthday card is posted over at my blog.

7:40 AM  
Blogger LarryD said...

tcn - I checked out the site and it is indeed impressive! I don't think my pastor would endorse it, but I know of a few others in nearby parishes who definitely would. Thanks for the info!

Our local KofC is not at all active at our parish. There are other guys like me who might like this though.

8:45 AM  
Blogger Germanicus said...

Great idea,
Rather than trying to fix things in your council why not start something new. Then you can invite people who think and act just like you. It can be your group.
Better yet since this problem pretty much extends through the whole Catholic Church maybe you can find some priests and Bishops who agree with you and start some kind of “re-formation” of the church. You can begin your list of grievances by recounting the lapses and missteps of church authority. I bet you’ll find at least 96.
Grow up! You discovered a problem Now fix it like a man. That goes for all the rest of you sniping little girls too.

a fortiori
James A Moore
[AKA the ever excitable Germanicus]

5:55 PM  
Blogger Vetus Melius Est said...

Germanicus,

Please refrain from internet pettiness and insults. That is contrary to anyone's purpose here unless your intention is first and foremost, to be inflammatory. The only "sniping" I saw was in your comment, anyway. Let's be adult, here.

That being said, let us give you the benefit of the doubt and assume your purpose is noble indicating that you must have misunderstood much of the post and subsequent discussion. The frustration experienced by the priest and many of the MEN who are, indeed, trying to "fix" the problems in our local council does not stem, in any respect, from a desire to make something "our" group. Thanks be to God, many of the problems in our council have been (or are being) resolved because of the diligence of the MEN.

The problems elucidated in the post are systemic and inherent to the organization, itself - not an individual council. If you recall, this whole topic came about because of the discovery of a website for Knights of Columbus supporting Obama. That a site like this even exists makes the case perfectly well by itself that the K of C are failing their members, their Church, and ultimately, Almighty God.

VME

9:54 PM  
Blogger Vetus Melius Est said...

TCN and Athos,

Thank you! Those links are excellent - exactly the knid of thing for which I was looking.

VME

9:55 PM  

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