Last week, Pope Francis received Supreme Knight Carl Anderson at the Vatican. This was the Supreme Knight’s third private audience with the Pope, and this one coincided with the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. To mark the occasion, the Supreme Knight along with Msgr. Eduardo Chavez, presented the pontiff with a silver rose after the special Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica marking the feast day. Chavez and the Supreme Knight recently co-authored a book together on Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Delivering a silver rose, however, was not the only reason for the audience. The Supreme Knight spoke with His Holiness about the many current activities of the Knights of Columbus, and presented the Pope with a financial contribution of $1.6 million from the Knights’ Vicarius Christi Fund.
One of the activities discussed was the efforts of the Knights of Columbus Christian Refugee Relief Fund, from which Anderson promised an additional contribution of $400,000 to the relief efforts of the Holy See in the Middle East, specifically in Iraq and nearby countries where Christians and other religious minorities have been persecuted and displaced. The Knights of Columbus have already been involved in donating large sums of money to help build new houses for refugees from Iraq and Syria in just these situations.
Donations to help Christians facing persecution follow a long Knights of Columbus tradition. In the past, they have supported oppressed Christians around the world. One article I was reading cited the involvement of the organization during the persecution of the Catholic Church in Mexico in the 1920’s. The Knights provided valuable humanitarian assistance, including both money and time spent, and raised international awareness of the situation.
This article cited another noteworthy statistic: Last year, the Knights of Columbus provided more than $170 million and 70 million hours to charitable causes around the world.