In 2020, the Knights of Columbus – the world’s largest Catholic family fraternal organization – are celebrating one hundred years of charitable activity in the city of Rome.
In his address to the Board of Directors of the organization, Pope Francis recalled that Pope Benedict XV had invited the Knights to provide humanitarian aid to young people and others in Rome “following the terrible conflict of the First World War”. He praised their efforts to establish sports centres for youth “which quickly became places for education, catechesis, and the distribution of food and other essentials so needed at the time”. In this way, he said, the Knights “proved faithful to the vision of [their] founder, Venerable Michael McGivney, who was inspired by the principles of Christian charity and fraternity to assist those most in need”.
Turning to the works of the order today, Pope Francis highlighted the Knights’ “faithful witness to the sacredness and dignity of human life”, and their aid to Christian communities in the Middle East. He thanked them “for seeing in our persecuted and displaced brothers and sisters of that region our neighbours for whom you are a sign of God’s infinite love”.
Pope Francis also noted the Knights’ “unswerving devotion to the Successor of Peter”, shown especially in the establishment of the Vicarius Christi Fund (which supports the Pope’s personal charities), and in the Knights’ desire “to share in the Pope’s solicitude for all the Churches and in his universal mission of charity”. He said, “In our world, marked by divisions and inequalities, the generous commitment of your Order to serve all in need offers, especially to young people, an important inspiration to overcome a globalization of indifference and build together a more just and inclusive society”.
Pope Francis concluded his address by entrusting all the Knights “to the loving intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary”, and assuring them of his prayers for them and their families, “and for all the good works accomplished by the local Councils worldwide".