The attachment is a response from our Supreme Office to members who have sent in complaints about President Trump’s visit to Saint John Paul II National Shrine earlier in the month.
While the visit looked like simply a photo op, apparently some of our members did not take the time to understand the original purpose and how the protests altered the event.
Anyway, please feel free to share the message if necessary.
Thank you for your note regarding President Trump’s June 2nd visit to the Saint John Paul II National Shrine, which is sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. There has been a great deal of confusion related to the visit. Please allow us to clarify this matter.
The Knights of Columbus has worked with both the Obama and Trump administrations in advocating for international religious freedom and played an instrumental role in gaining unanimous passage of a congressional declaration that genocide was taking place against religious minorities in Iraq and Syria at the hands of Isis.
The next step in our bipartisan efforts to combat religious repression was to be a June 2nd signing at the shrine of a presidential executive order to defend the civil rights of believers. The shrine was considered an appropriate venue for this multi-faith event because it would commemorate John Paul’s historic visit to Poland as pope in 1979. His words back then, and their reception by millions of Poles and others behind the Iron Curtain, is widely viewed as the beginning of the end of Soviet-style communism and its efforts to crush freedom of conscience.
The shrine was a favorable venue also because it can accommodate the several hundred religious leaders invited to the ceremony, even with current social distancing requirements. Unfortunately, due to the protests and demonstrations going on in Washington, the signing at the shrine was canceled on the eve of the ceremony and moved to the White House. Nevertheless, the president and first lady visited the shrine on the day of the signing. The shrine welcomes all people to come and pray and learn about the legacy of St. John Paul II.
The Knights of Columbus does not endorse any political candidates for any office. We are happy to work with all government and political leaders in the fight for social justice and religious freedom, goals we have been pursuing since our founding over 130 years ago. To promote a spirit of peaceful reconciliation in the face of today’s unrest, we have invited all to join in a novena of prayer for unity and an end to racism, and we will continue to contribute to the good and necessary work that is needed now more than ever.
Despite the criticism surrounding the visit, we should ground ourselves in our faith and the humility it requires of us all. Pope Francis has reminded us of this many times, including in a June 11 tweet to mark the Solemnity of Corpus Christi:
“Jesus welcomes sinners and eats with them. The same happens with us, in every mass, in every church: Jesus is happy to welcome us at his table, where he offers himself for us.”