Vatican declares Knights of Columbus founder “venerable”


New Haven, CT – March 16, 2008   Pope Benedict XVI Saturday approved a decree recognizing the heroic virtue of Father Michael J. McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus. The pope’s declaration significantly advances the priest’s process toward sainthood and gives the parish priest the distinction of “Venerable Servant of God.” If canonized, Fr. McGivney would be the first American born priest to be so honored.

“All of us who are members of the Knights of Columbus are profoundly grateful for this recognition of the holiness of our founder,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “The strength of the Knights of Columbus today is a testament to his timeless vision, his holiness and his ideals.”

Worried about the religious faith and financial stability of immigrant families, Father McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus with the help of several men of St. Mary’s Parish in New Haven in 1882 to help strengthen the faith of the men of his parish and to provide financial assistance in the event of their death to the widows and orphans they left behind. He was also known for his tireless work among his parishioners.

Born in Waterbury, Conn., Aug. 12, 1852, Michael Joseph McGivney, was the first of Patrick and Mary (Lynch) McGivney’s 13 children, six of whom died in infancy or early childhood. His parents, natives of Ireland, had immigrated to the United States during the 19th century. Patrick was a molder in a Waterbury brass mill, where Michael himself worked for a brief time as a child to help support his family.

From an early age, however, he realized a calling to the Catholic priesthood. After studying in several seminaries, he was ordained in that Baltimore’s historic Cathedral by Cardinal James Gibbons Dec. 22, 1877. He took up his first assignment, as curate at St. Mary’s Church, New Haven, Conn., Jan. 2, 1878. Father McGivney was named pastor of St. Thomas Church in Thomaston, Conn. in 1884. He became seriously ill with pneumonia in January 1890, and died Aug. 14, 1890 at age 38.

The cause, or process, for Father McGivney’s sainthood, was opened by Hartford Archbishop Daniel A. Cronin, in December 1997. The cause was presented to the Vatican in 2000, where it has been under review by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. With the pope’s recent decree, and the authentication of a miracle at Father McGivney’s intercession, the priest could be beatified. A second miracle would be required for canonization.

Still maintaining its headquarters in New Haven, the Knights of Columbus is the world’s largest Catholic Fraternal Organization with more than 1.7 million members in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Central America, the Caribbean islands, the Philippines, Guam and, most recently, Poland.

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Public Policy Alert for Knights of Columbus in the U.S.


Congress considers transforming AIDS relief into a massive abortion program financed by U.S. taxpayers

ACTION:

A Congressional committee is about to take America’s overseas AIDS relief program and use it as a vehicle for population control and abortion promotion.  Knights are urged to write to their members of Congress (especially if they’re members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee) to oppose this change.  See additional details at the bottom of this e-mail alert.

BACKGROUND

The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is due for reauthorization in 2008. In 2003 this bill was passed with bipartisan support and has a proven record of success in saving lives.

Last month, however, the House Foreign Affairs Committee proposed a reauthorization bill (the “Global HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008”) which would drop the program’s exclusive focus on HIV/AIDS, and define HIV/AIDS and pregnancy as a “dual threat” to women’s lives.

The $50 billion authorized by the bill would then be used for both AIDS relief and what are termed “women’s reproductive health services” and “family planning services.” Although the bill’s definition of “reproductive health” does not mention “abortion,” abortion advocates have long interpreted “reproductive health” and “family planning” to include abortion.  Women seeking solely HIV/AIDS treatment could unexpectedly find themselves subjected to abortion counseling.

MEXICO CITY POLICY

Currently, the Mexico City Policy provides that no U.S. population assistance funds can be given to non-governmental organizations unless they certify that it will not perform or promote abortion as a method of family planning.  But the Mexico City Policy does not apply to AIDS relief legislation.  The insertion of “reproductive health” and “family planning” in AIDS relief legislation is a ploy to redirect AIDS relief money to international abortion organizations, and represents an end run around the Mexico City Policy restrictions.  Foreign abortion groups that cannot currently obtain US funding for family planning would be able to do so under this AIDS relief legislation. 

CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES AFFECTED

Catholic health institutions deliver approximately 25% of all HIV and AIDS care worldwide, and this bill places Catholic participation in jeopardy. Men, women and children seeking treatment for HIV and AIDS by Catholic providers in the world’s poorest regions could lose their access to treatment.

On February 6, Bishop Thomas Wenski, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, and Ken Hackett, President of Catholic Relief Services, wrote to the Foreign Affairs Committee, welcoming the major increase in funding for AIDS relief, but said that they were “deeply troubled” by inclusion of ‘reproductive health’ and ‘family planning’ services . . .” 

That is why the National Right to Life Committee and many other organizations are asking that the legislation be changed, and we ask that you do, too.

Click here for the full text of Bishop Wenski’s letter and a fact sheet.

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

Contact members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee by phone, FAX or e-mail.  This is especially important if your own representative in Congress is a member of the committee.  Click here for a list of committee members.

Even if your representative is not on the committee, it will also be helpful to contact your representative and your U.S. senators by mail, Fax, e-mail or phone.  Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard: 202-224-3121 or call your representative’s local office. 

MESSAGE:

“When you reauthorize the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), please do NOT link the AIDS/HIV program to family planning and abortion.  PEPFAR should keep its bipartisan focus on saving human lives.  Those suffering from HIV/AIDS should not be sacrificed to the cause of abortion and population control.”

WHEN:

Due to the death of Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, markup of this legislation has been postponed until February 25.  Immediate action will ensure that your voice is heard before the committee action is taken.