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Pope Francis Commends Knights of Columbus' Charity, Support for Religious Freedom

Papal greeting delivered to Knights' 132nd International Convention in Orlando

Contact: Andrew Walther, 203-824-5412, andrew.walther@kofc.org; Peter Sonski, 203-410-4693, peter.sonski@kofc.org; both with Knights of Columbus 

ORLANDO, Fla., Aug. 5, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ -- In a letter of greeting to the Knights of Columbus, Pope Francis praised the organization's charitable works and encouraged the Knights to continue to champion religious liberty and defend the integrity of marriage and the family.

The pope's message was conveyed in a letter from Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin. It was read to the Knights gathered for the fraternal organization's 132nd international convention, taking place this week in Orlando and concluding Thursday, Aug. 7.

The letter expressed the pope's appreciation to the Knights for their fidelity to faith, fraternity and service, which it said continue "to contribute to the mission of the Church at every level and, in particular, to the universal ministry of the Apostolic See." "For this," the letter noted, "His Holiness is profoundly grateful."

On the Knights' charitable activities, the letter said that "the fraternal spirit inculcated by Father Michael McGivney and the first Knights of Columbus continues to be fruitful in the numerous charitable activities of the local councils, which, while meeting the needs of individuals, also build up communities in solidarity and concern for the common good."

During the past year, Knights set an all-time record for charitable giving, donating more than $170 million and more than 70.5 million hours of service to charitable causes.

The papal message exhorts the Knights to defend religion's "proper place in the public square and to encourage the lay faithful in their mission of shaping a society which reflects the truth of Christ."

The pope's sentiments were directed to more than 2,000 attendees of the convention, including Knights and their families from throughout North and Central America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and Europe.  They are joined in Orlando by nearly 90 archbishops and bishops, including 11 cardinals, for prayer, business planning, achievement awards and fellowship.

The convention's theme, "You Will All Be Brothers: Our Vocation to Fraternity," comes from the message of Pope Francis for the World Day of Peace, in which he observed, "Without fraternity it is impossible to build a just society," and that Catholics share a "vocation to fraternity."

"The Knights of Columbus, the Church's largest fraternal organization, is uniquely positioned to answer this call," said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. "We carry out works of charity in a spirit of fraternal brotherhood, and are pleased to be able to answer Pope Francis' call to all Catholics to care for our brothers and sisters in need."

Founded in 1882 by Father McGivney, a parish priest in New Haven, Conn., the Knights of Columbus has grown to 1.8 million members with charity as the organization's primary mission.

Follow #KofCFL14 on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ for live coverage of the Knights' 132nd International Convention. 

More information on the convention is available at www.kofc.org