Knights in Tarnished Armor

“Dear Brother Carl,” begins the letter sent to Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus. “You failed us by not terminating the two Knights that enabled the N.Y. gay-marriage bill to become law…. I cannot in good faith belong to any organization that will not publicly defend our Catholic beliefs against the gay marriage movement. The gay-marriage bill [passed] by the Catholic governor of New York was made into law by two N.Y. swing vote senators that are both … Knights. Consider this my resignation.”

The letter was sent by my friend Dennis, a 4th Degree Knight from Western Pennsylvania, who is not happy—and has a right to be upset.

What Dennis is referring to is the recent action by two New York State Senators, Joe Addabbo and David Carlucci, who cast crucial votes to pass so-called “gay marriage” in New York. The vote was 33 to 29. Had these two men voted against the bill, it would not have passed. Both men indeed are members of the Knights of Columbus.

In response, some Catholics are demanding that the Knights expel the two senators. As Dennis told me, he fears that a failure by the Knights to stand firm against a crystal-clear issue like “gay marriage,” which is a blatant violation of long-time Church teaching, is akin to the failure by Catholics to stand firm against abortion before Roe v. Wade became the law of the land in 1973. And Dennis certainly has a point.

What is the policy of the Knights on matters like this? What should be the response? Should there be discipline for members that hold very influential public positions that can literally change the laws of the land and culture? These are members with more than a mere personal opinion; their actions have significant public consequences. Should they not be held to a higher standard?

These are tough, uncomfortable questions, but they must be dealt with.

For the Knights of Columbus, this is not an issue that will be going away anytime soon.

For Catholic and Ave Maria Radio, I’m Paul Kengor.

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Dr. Paul Kengor


Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values. His books include “The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism” and “Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.”

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  • rakeys

    Similar question
    If two members of the Sierra club voted that it is OK to cut down trees to build a strip mall anywhere in the country, and for any reason, would they still be members of the Sierra Club?

  • Gerard LeBlond

    I am most distressed when I hear about so-called ‘Catholic politicians’ in our Country who ignore their faith (I believe the term used by Governor Andrew Cuomo is: ‘To Compartmentalize Religious Belief’) when considering how they will vote on matters that come before them as law-makers.

    As a 3rd Degree Knight and a Financial Secretary for a Central New York State Council of the Knights of Columbus let me say that any Knight who publicly does something that is anti-Catholic, or goes against what a practicing Catholic must hold as true as determined by the Catholic Church, has de facto (by his actions) expelled himself from being a Knight.

    Only practicing Catholic men above the age of 18 years who have been admitted into the order and remain practicing Catholics are honored with the title of Knight.

    While the Supreme Knight, Carl Anderson, could suspend a member for failing the test of being a practicing (a.k.a. practical) Catholic the proper avenue is for the Grand Knight and the officers (Financial Secretary and Trustees) of the offending member’s Council to fill-out and submit the paperwork stating that the offending members are suspended for reason of being ‘non-practical’ Catholics.

    In the case of New York State Senators, Joe Addabbo and David Carlucci, even though I’m a Financial Secretary I don’t have the authority to suspend either one because neither of these dis-honored individuals are members of my particular Council… but if they were, they would have been ‘dumped like hot-potatoes’ soon after they had voted as they did.

    Gerard F. LeBlond
    Financial Secretary
    St. Joseph Council #5398 East Syracuse, NY