26 May 2010

The Knights of Columbus: to stay or go?

Dr. Jeff Mirus has it exactly right on the Knights of Columbus controversy:

It may be true that the first step toward a just social order is clear Catholic teaching by the clergy. But the second step is the day’s own trouble for the laity, the application of Catholic teaching in all the concrete dimensions of daily life. It is laymen who are expected to draw the lines that may not be crossed—not in terms of what the Church teaches, but in terms of the proper response when that teaching is ignored and our culture is subverted by those who participate in social and political life. It is laymen who are called to make it clear that if you want to be honored in our circles, you cannot campaign against what we stand for. And if you do, you will be corrected. And if you refuse correction, you will no longer be able to enjoy our company, our camaraderie, our sympathy and our support. 

The whole article is here.  I am especially impressed by Dr. Mirus' emphasis on the responsibility of the laity in defending Church teaching.

I would emphasis one essential flaw in the KC's defense of their policy:  critics of the policy are not asking the KC's to conduct investigations into the beliefs of every Knight in order to determine whether or not he is orthodox.  The problem comes when Knights who are also public figures take stands against Church teaching.  A Knight is a pro-abortion state governor not only risks his immortal soul by supporting abortion, he risks being held eternally responsible for those who may be lead to believe that since a Knight is pro-abortion, abortion must an acceptable practice in the eyes of the Church.

Whether or not any individual Knight should resign in protest against this policy boils down to a prudential judgment:  will my resignation bring about a change in the policy?  My choice would be to stay and fight.  Work to change the policy through normal channels.  There's always the chance that this will become a losing battle.  Then you would have to make another judgment:  am I giving my consent to the policy by remaining? 

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7 comments:

  1. Anonymous4:15 AM

    I'd suggest magnanimity toward the Knights. They are one of the finest associations of Catholic men anywhere. They are not, however, AS A GROUP usually regarded for being scholars or theologians. Their answer shows them to be great obedient Catholic laymen, "We will follow the Bishops' lead." Yes, distinctons made bewteen being a practicing Catholic and being a member of the Knights and observations about the Knights' needing to be responsible for their own membership are all true and should probably be in place. The Knights SHOULD feel sufficiently self-confident to make their own decisions about the public activities of their members. The problem is this: the bishops themselves are so divided and so unclear and so weak in the directions they are giving us on any manner of issues, why should any lay group (unless it feels all fired up to do so) take on all of the responsibility and grief for sorting this delicate issue out? I regret the decision the Knights have made and I hope they will reverse it, but at the same time I can find no fault in their stand and encourage others to regard this in the same magnanimous way. ONCE AGAIN, the responsibility for this problem lies with the bishops and once again the bishops seem quite willing to lock themselves away in hidden chambers, while looking out their windows to see how the real warriors are handling their war for them. The last time this scenario unfolded was the abuse mess, of course. Bishops can legislate all manner of complicated and demanding and stringent regulations but it someone sle (again) this time, the prists who must carry the incredibel burden of seeking permissions from a diocese light years ahead of time with untold amounts of documentation just to offficiate at your nieces' wedding in a neighboring diocese. Today there is some weak, poorly written and ambiguous statements from the USCCB in reaction agaisnt the nuns (and other Catholic) groups that opposed them on the health care legislation. Many of us have placed ourselves on the line explaining (often an uphill battle) to others why the NEWTORK and CHA statements were so profoundly damaging to Catholic unity, obedience and national influence - in other words, doing the Bishops' job for them again. Now this weak statement comes out and most people will not even be able to cull out a hint of disapproval, let alone correction, to these groups in those lines. I am a frustrated priest. Can anyone explain why the USCCB is so consistently so negligent about its duties? And leave the KofC alone!

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  2. Kudos to Annon. above.

    Also, this KofC thing almost seems a non-issue because nobody is talking about a SPECIFIC CASE. It all seems theoretical, and trumped up for the benefit of a few internet bullies.

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  3. Anonymous9:24 AM

    I agree with your statement about "the responsibility of the laity in defending Church teaching."

    But what about following Church practice? I'm not talking about following the sins of fellow Catholics, but about following the official acts of bishops.

    If you had an organization whose sole requirement that you were a U.S. citizen, wouldn't it make sense to use the U.S. government's list of citizens?

    I'm not trivializing the abortion issue - I take it extremely seriously - but we're talking about basic requirements and legality. Has the U.S. expelled them or not?

    It might not be the fullest definition of "good" Catholic, but it is a clear boundary, using the Church's standards of practice.

    Besides, the policy might not be the best, but it isn't immoral.

    The "policy" is to deal with these politicians, but just not on the local level.

    But the "policy" is to deal with it.

    Let me put it this way: If you are meeting with someone privately, talking with them, trying to get them to see the truth and act according to it, would you want a council to stand up in church and post a notice in the bulletin saying that the person is expelled them from the council -- and that, on top of it, Fr. Philip isn't doing anything, and is immoral and isn't Catholic enough?

    As a priest, you know that kicking people out of a parish isn't the best or only way to help someone to Christ.

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  4. I've been thinking about this, and a lot of these recent scandals just seem like misplaced angst. People are mad at the Church. I get that. They're mad that Prominent Catholics are Pro-Choice and their Bishops have no problem with it. They're mad that the Church covered up sex abuse for years. They're mad about a bunch of stuff. They want to see heads roll, but they never get that satisfaction. Bishops haven't been held to account for their misdeeds in the US like they are in Ireland, for instance.

    I get it.

    So when something like this comes up, everyone unloads all their pent up frustration. Yeah, Rep Dingle is a Knight and his council won't kick him out. Oh, and by the way, I haven't seen the Jesuits discipline any of their members lately either. And there's that Dominican on iTunes U explaining how Catholics can vote Pro-Choice with a good conscience. Oh, and the USCCB gives tons of money to groups that support abortion and gay marriage.

    The Church is full of sinners. In the meantime, what's everyone else doing to bring about holiness? How many Holy Hours have they made? How much fasting? If you don't like the Knights, then quit. They're a bit anachronistic anyway (a Catholic lodge, but who goes to lodges anymore)? But do something.

    This seems like pretty small potatoes. It's not like the Knights are acting as escorts at abortion clinics, or something. Outraged men can always join the Knights and get on the Membership Committee so they can keep apostates out.

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  5. Anonymous2:22 PM

    Ben, you're right on. By the way, what's name of the jacka-- who puts O.P. after his name who is on iTunes U explaining how Catholics can vote Pro-Choice with a good conscience? If this is true, Father Powell can give us the name of the man's Provincial and the address of the Superior General in Rome to write to.

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  6. Anon (9.22am), I'm not getting your reference...what is "iTunes U"?

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  7. Anonymous2:39 AM

    Consult Ben (above ) par. 3 for the first mention of iTunes U.

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