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Archive for July 2016

2016 Knights of Columbus Nonpartisan National Voter Registration Program

Dear Brother Knights:

All citizens of the United States have the right to vote. All Catholic citizens should become active and informed participants in the political life of their local community and their country. This includes making sure that all Catholic citizens who are eligible to vote are registered to do so.

In this important election year, the Order is asking you to please consider participating in The Knights of Columbus Nonpartisan National Voter Registration Program. This is a nonpartisan parish-based program that enables members of the Knights of Columbus to help Catholic citizens register and exercise their right to vote.

To learn more about how your state and your council can participate in this important program, go to www.kofc.org/vote. To review an informative webinar presentation describing the program and related program materials, click here to register.

If you have specific questions about this program, call Fraternal Mission at (203) 752-4270.

Any questions from the media concerning the Knights of Columbus and political activity or any other public relations issues should be directed to Joe Cullen, Senior Communications Specialist, at (203) 800-4923 or joseph.cullen@kofc.org.

Vivat Jesus!

U.S. Commission on International Freedom (USCIRF)

A Message from the Executive Director
Thursday, July 14, 2016

Dear Friends,

There is never a dull day fighting for religious freedom. Last week I was in the Rocky Mountains speaking to a room full of some 3,000 young activists who are passionate about freedom. Yesterday I was in a hall full of diplomats and government officials, being sworn in as a Commissioner for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

The two experiences couldn’t have been more different. And yet to me, they feel equally a part of the broader battle for conscience rights and religious liberty around the world.

They both reminded me of a story I told the crowd in Denver (click here to watch the full speech). My father fled Fidel Castro’s Cuba and lost everything. My father did not stew on his losses. Instead, he stayed focused on the horizon, on the future, and he taught his kids to do the same. Sitting around our kitchen table at night, he would speak about what was possible, not what was lost.

He filled me with excitement when he would tell me that in this new country, a young Latina woman from Cuba could do whatever she set her mind to. Speaking to the next generation in Denver and taking the oath of office for USCIRF—both experiences brought me back to that kitchen table.

In taking on this role for USCIRF, I want to carry on that spirit of possibility and optimism for all people who suffer, especially for their beliefs.

That’s why I asked the Green family of Hobby Lobby if I could borrow a Bible from their collection with a story of its own for my swearing-in ceremony. The Bible they lent me came from Ghana and was written in an original language for a country where as many as 600,000 slaves were taken and sent to Cuba. To me that Bible represents the suffering that is a part of human history, but also of the spirit of hope that conquers suffering and restores human dignity, a human dignity to which every man and woman is entitled.

And that’s why I asked Amnesty International prisoner of conscience and Afro-Cuban dissident, Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, to hold the Bible as I took the oath of office. Dr. Biscet is one of the most courageous people I have ever met. After years of terrible abuse for his beliefs and for his audacity to stand up to one of the most oppressive regimes in human history, and after finally getting a taste of the freedom we enjoy here in America, Dr. Biscet is voluntarily going back to keep fighting for his people and their God-given right to freedom.

Dr. Biscet is not satisfied with his own freedom; he won’t stop fighting until others have it too. I only hope I can live up to his example, even if that means I never get to retire.

USCIRF is a bipartisan U.S. federal government commission that was created through the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) and signed into law by President Clinton. I am incredibly humbled to join the likes of Commission Chair Rev. Thomas J. Reese, S.J., Vice Chairs Dr. Daniel Mark and Dr. James J. Zogby, Sandra Jolley, Dr. John Ruskay, and Ambassador Jackie Wolcott as we bring the message of human dignity and religious liberty to some of the darkest corners of the globe. That will inevitably bring its own challenges, as our nation is struggling to preserve conscience rights in our own schools, city councils, government buildings, universities, and courtrooms today.

But as I told the crowd in the mile-high city, this is still the freest country in the world, and it is a truly magical place. The challenge of this line of work is to press on without losing that sense of magic that inspires us to keep fighting for those who have never experienced it, whose lives have been so downtrodden by oppression that they don’t know what it’s like to go to synagogue without fear of harassment, to mass without fear of violence, or simply to live daily life without being shamed for believing something different.

But whether it’s our supporters and my colleagues at Becket, a hall packed with energized activists in Denver, or a sober room filled with heroes like Dr. Biscet, each person who hasn’t given up gives me the courage to endure the future.
Regards,

Kristina Arriaga
Executive Director

Support The Conscience Protection Act of 2016

Dear Brother Knight,

Your action is needed to urge Congress to protect the rights of healthcare professionals, Catholic hospitals, and all people of goodwill who object to participating in abortion.

The Conscience Protection Act of 2016 (HR 4828) gives these conscientious objectors a means for protecting their conscience rights through legal action. A vote on this critical legislation in the House of Representatives is imminent. Contact your member of Congress today and ask them to support this important legislation.

Immediate action is necessary. Right now, Catholic schools, churches, and other faith-based organizations are being forced to cover abortion—even late-term abortion—in their health plans. Right now, Catholic health professionals are being forced to provide and participate in abortions.

Contact your elected representatives today and ask them to support the Conscience Protection Act. Thank you for doing your part to protect conscience rights and to build a Culture of Life.

Fraternally,

Carl A. Anderson
Supreme Knight

Knights of Columbus Urges Prayers For Peace

Following a week of violence across the United States, the Knights of Columbus has called for a novena of prayer to heal the wounds and divisions afflicting this country.

Knights, their families and all people of good will are encouraged to join in the novena (nine days of prayer) that will run from July 14-22 by praying St. Francis of Assisi’s Prayer for Peace:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

“The violent episodes of the past week have shocked the conscience of our country,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “Through this prayer, each of us has the opportunity to help transcend hatred and violence by personally committing to the concepts of love of neighbor, peace and forgiveness that are central to an authentic embrace of Christianity. It is our hope that, from coast to coast, those who pray this prayer will become true instruments of peace.”

Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore also urged people to join this prayer campaign: “During this Year of Mercy, let us pray for an end to violence and senseless killings,” he said. “Through our prayers and good works, may we help build a society that is merciful, just and peaceful.”

Knights of Columbus
1 Columbus Plaza
New Haven, CT 06510
(203) 752-4000