A Massachusetts K of C member had proposed a resolution, to be taken up by the group’s state convention, calling for the suspension of membership of any politician who gave public support to abortion and same-sex marriage. That resolution was declared inappropriate by the Supreme Advocate of the K of C, John Marrella.
In a letter to the Massachusetts K of C leadership, Marrella declared that “a subordinate council may not impose fraternal discipline with respect to a public figure’s official actions on matters pertaining to faith and morals. Rather, any such discipline must be made by or at the direction of the Supreme Board of Directors.”
Additionally, the KC’s were disinclined to do more than the bishops in bouncing people out of the organization. Apparently a membership (self-)purge is underway, at least on a small scale, given the comments from the blogotariat from Knights preparing to turn in their cards.
Mr Peters’ critique netted this response from the Supreme Council.
I agree with the Knights on this. I think there is room for dissent, for those within the KC’s to make their case, but ultimately, I think the wiser course is to keep republicanism out of the organization. I’m going to tell a story, then come back to this point.
I wasn’t inclined to join the Knights. I had never been approached until my friend Joe asked me about twelve, thirteen years ago. He and his wife sang in the funeral choir. He was retired, and volunteered at the hospital. He was also a sacristan and Communion minister. He asked me if he could sponsor my membership and he willingly received my questions. No, I didn’t have to get the formal wear. Yes, I was welcome to participate in charitable and social activities. However much or little I did was up to me. The other Knights he named were also men I respected. So for me, it was something of an exploration, and something of trusting and knowing the others involved. They were guys I would want to hang around with.
When the bishops’ cover0up scandal broke in 2002, I know there were rumblings. I did consider that the KC’s might have made some statement. And it certainly would sting if the organization were publicly critical of bishops. Another course was followed, and in retrospect, I concur with the silence. Other groups of Catholics spoke out against abusive clergy and bishops, and not everyone or every group is called to congruence in its public statements and actions.
My readers know I consider the disinvite strategy to be wrongheaded. It’s bad sociology. It’s bad for the Christian virtues of trust. It foments secular values. It would be bad enough if it were only a republican dirty-trick philosophy left over from the radical 60’s and 70’s. But it damages the Church along the lines of unity, which, last time I looked, was a credal quality. Unlike the actual transgressions of morality.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the blogosphere and among the KC’s in the future. The Knights are a fairly conservative organization, and on this point, so are their harshest critics. But we Knights also have principles that predate modern republicanism. No doubt, some men will turn in their membership cards. I hope the numbers are few to none. It might be that the principles that led to the founding of the organization are less needful today. But Catholic men still need all the support they can get. Among friends, among brothers, there can be guidance, correction, or whatever you want to call it. Let’s keep the vigor for the pro-life effort to the hard work in the trenches: supporting Birthright and other efforts, presenting a calm and trusting visage to fencesitters, and providing charity to those in need.
I also hope that this sort of critique is starting to burn itself out. Calmer heads and hearts really need to prevail on these issues.