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Korea Knights of Columbus

Knights of Columbus

John Burger - published on 08/09/14

Knights and Pope go to Korea, missioners in Africa, and bioethics in Bismarck.

This has been one of those weeks when you might feel sorry for people like the Knights of Columbus.

With ISIS, Ebola and satanists grabbing the headlines, it was easy to miss the fact that the 1.8 million-member fraternal order had its annual convention in Orlando.

Pope Francis sent greetings to the Knights, encouraging them in their “Vocation to Fraternity,” which was the theme of their gathering this year.

“The Church is called to be a community of brothers and sisters who accept and care for one another,” thus serving as “a leaven of reconciliation and unity for the whole human family,” said the Pope’s message.

Francis also thanked the Knights for their efforts to defend the role of religion in the public square and to encourage lay people in their mission of shaping a society that reflects true Christian values.

The K of C has given much support to the Holy See over the years, and now they will have something else in common. Pope Francis travels to South Korea next week, and the Knights have just announced that the Order is expanding into that country, its second in Asia.

That papal journey is another story that risks being overshadowed by the crisis in the Middle East. The Guardianreported that North Korea apparently declined an invitation to send Catholics to a Mass the Pope will celebrate in Seoul, a South Korean Church official said.

The North’s state-run Korean Catholics Association cited Seoul’s refusal to cancel an upcoming joint military drill with US forces as the main reason for its decision.

Francis will make another brush with a communist regime while traveling East. On his way to Korea, he will fly over the People’s Republic of China. The International Business Times points out that the trip will include a “rare moment of communication between the officially atheist state” and the Holy See.

“Vatican protocol requires the Pope to radio countries that the Papal plane flies over—this time it includes China, a country with a long history of marginalizing religion,” says the IBT.

That marginalization has been on display recently in Zhejian Province. According to AsiaNews, Bishop Zhu Weifang of Wenzhou and his priests have denounced the provincial government’s “brutal acts of forced demolitions of churches and stripping off crosses from Catholic and Protestant churches in the province.”

ISIS has been doing the same thing in the Christian towns of the Nineveh Plain.

Anyway, according to the AP, the Vatican’s spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said that Francis’ message to China was still unknown, but did confirm that flight to Seoul would go through Chinese airspace.

With what’s going on in Gaza, some Muslims living in Europe have been demonstrating and, what’s worse, attacking places of worship. We reported a few weeks ago on the attacks in Paris on Jewish shops and synagogues and the French bishops who condemned such actions.

Now, two churches in Thonon-les-Bains, a city in eastern France, were desecrated by what the local priest said was a “young Muslim.”

“A man in his thirties entered St. Hippolytus Church and the Basilica of St. Francis de Sales and destroyed or damaged altars, stained glass, statues, candelabras, and a bronze cross,” reported Le Messager, according to Catholic World News. “He also tore open a tabernacle and trampled on the Eucharist.”

And that, effectively, we fear, is what a Satanist plans to do in Oklahoma City in a few weeks.

News out of northern Iraq this past week has introduced some of us to the Yezidi people and the peshmerga. And news out of West Africa have introduced us to the work of the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God. Like the missionaries affiliated with
SIM USA who were brought to Emory University in Atlanta to be treated for the Ebola they contracted while serving the sick, the members of the St. John of God order became missionaries in Africa because of a strong calling from God. One, at least, gave the ultimate sacrifice. Brother Patrick Nshamdze, director of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, died after contracting the Ebola virus. Another, Spanish missionary Miguel Pajares, 75, was one of three who tested positive at the San Jose de Monrovia Hospital in Liberia earlier this week, according to AP. He was flown to Spain on Thursday and was in stable condition at a Madrid hospital.

Here is how the order describes itself on the website of its US branch:


Our institute was approved by the Church as an Order of Brothers with the mission to provide assistance for the sick and needy. It had its origin in Granada, Spain, in the second half of the 16th century to continue the charitable apostolate of Saint John of God, who was born at Montemor-o-Novo (Portugal) and died in Granada on the 8th of March 1550.

Saint John of God had been joined by several followers, who were attracted by his example and who helped him in works of mercy, especially in the hospital he founded in Granada. Outstanding among these followers was Anthony Martin; at the moment of death, John entrusted him with the continuation and supervision of the work. In the following years other companions joined the group, and a number of hospitals were founded.

Our identity as Brothers consecrated in hospitality commits us to encouraging, fostering and establishing bonds of fraternity with all those who wish to join us to share our spirituality, charism and/or mission as Co-workers.

Speaking of health, if there’s one thing Catholics need a better understanding of—and a better ability to explain to the rest of the worldit’s bioethics. Man’s moral sense has been challenged in recent years in keeping up with advances in science and medicine.

The University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D., is helping to answer that need. It has announced a new Master of Science in Bioethics degree, according to the Cardinal Newman Society.

“I see this program as enhancing and deepening the Catholic identity of the University of Mary and our ability to serve the Church and our country in these troubled times,” said Msgr. James Shea, president of the University of Mary. Central to the new program is a partnership with the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC), the “flagship institute for the Catholic Church” in the field of bioethics within the United States, Msgr. Shea said.

Finally, getting back to the Knights of Columbus, it was also announced recently that one of their top officers has a new job. Former Deputy Supreme Knight Dennis Savoie has been appointed Canada’s ambassador to the Holy See. A New Brunswick native, Savoie served on the board of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family, which is co-sponsored by the Knights and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

John Burger is news editor for Aleteia’s English edition.

Tags:
Knights of ColumbusPope Francis
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