I often keep the Catholic network EWTN on in the background as I do housework. This afternoon featured live programming from the 130th Supreme Convention of the Catholic fraternal and charitable organization the Knights of Columbus from Anaheim, California. It's estimated that around 2,000 members of the Knights of Columbus will attend the convention.
The theme of this year's convention is Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land. At the opening session of the convention the Knights announced they had letters of greeting from leaders of several of the nations with large representations at the meeting. The first one read was from U.S. President Barack Obama. It was met with complete silence. By contrast letters from the leaders of Canada, Mexico and the Philippines were all applauded.
The silence that met Obama's greeting contrasted sharply with the multiple standing ovations Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson received during his annual report when he addressed the battles with the Obama administration's HHS mandate on abortifacients/sterilization/birth control and with militant atheists who seek to remove all signs of religion from the public square.
The Knights of Columbus were founded in 1882 as a fraternal benefits society by the parish priest Father Michael J. McGivney of St. Mary's parish in New Haven Connecticut the Knights. According to the Knights' website since then it has grown to become an international force of:
more than 14,000 councils and 1.8 million members throughout the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Mexico, Poland, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Panama, the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, Cuba, Guatemala, Guam and Saipan.
Most of those council are based in a Catholic parish. The men at this convention are among some of the most important lay leaders in their parishes and in the Catholic church as a whole. These are the people who cook the parish dinners, organize the events, volunteer whenever the call goes out, and generally spread Christ's word via their good works to the tune of $154 million plus in charitable projects and 70 million hours of volunteer time annually.
The Knights were founded to counter the anti-Catholicism of late 19th century America. After the mid 20th century, its activities shifted almost entirely towards other issues because that battle was seen as won. Now it is shifting once again. According to Supreme Knight Anderson the Knights' mission in 2012 is:
"a combination of defending liberty, working for a culture of life and also building a culture of life by being our brothers keeper, in reaching out in works of charity,"
I suspect it was not smart for Obama to needlessly antagonize such socially active men in his quest to please gays, radical feminists and the media. Men who donate that much time to charity probably won't find it hard to make a little room in their schedules for a few hours of political organizing before this fall's election.
The media is likely to continue to spin polls that show that self identified Catholics still support Obama. In the 2008 election Obama won about the same percent of vote from self identified Catholics as he won in the population at large. Undoubtedly many secularized Catholics such as Nancy Pelosi and Kathleen Sibelius will support him until the end of the world. A view from those in the pews every Sunday -- as opposed to the findings of such organizations such as Pew -- suggests the more devout feel differently. The number of the genuinely faithful the Obama followers can fool this time with their carefully crafted language about social justice is likely to be far less than it was in 2008. Just as Obama now has a record on the economy he also has one on matters central to the faith of devout Catholics. Both records are simply dreadful for this nation.