ANAHEIM, Calif. – In response to recent threats to religious liberty, delegates to the 130th supreme convention of the Knights of Columbus passed a “Resolution in Defense of Religious Liberty” on Thursday which reads "that as American citizens and as Knights of Columbus, we will steadfastly support the free exercise of religion as it is enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States."
The resolution comes days after Pope Benedict the XVI, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and the president of the Canadian Bishops' Conference, Archbishop Richard Smith, expressed gratitude and support for the organization's leadership in defending religious liberty.
The organization also passed a resolution honoring Archbishop Henry J. Mansell of Hartford, who is marking the 20th anniversary of his appointment as an auxiliary bishop of New York in November and the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood in December.
The resolution on religious liberty is consistent with the guarantee of religious liberty as stated in the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment and with Catholic teaching that holds that the right to religious freedom is based on the inherent dignity of the human person.
It also draws on the comments from Pope Benedict XVI during his 2008 visit to the United States in which he reminded the faithful that it should never be necessary to deny God in order to enjoy their rights as citizens and that it is inconceivable that believers should have to suppress their faith in order to be active citizens.
The resolution further calls upon all members of the Knights of Columbus and all Catholics in the United States to stand with and support the Catholic bishops of the United States in their work to oppose this mandate and to protect religious liberty and freedom of conscience.
The resolution that honors Archbishop Mansell says that has been the ordinary of the archdiocese – which includes New Haven, where the fraternal organization was born – since December 2003, and says he "has always been a great supporter and friend to the Order in matters great and small …" It also praises him for his "constant support, encouragement and hard work" in promoting the Cause for Canonization of Venerable Michael McGivney, who founded the Knights of Columbus.
Archbishop Mansell has been a member of the Knights of Columbus for more than 45 years, serving as Connecticut state chaplain and currently belonging to Cathedral of St. Joseph Council 11405 in Hartford the and St. Maximilian Kolbe Assembly in Buffalo, N.Y.
Founded in 1882, the Knights of Columbus an international Catholic fraternal organization with more than 1.8 million members worldwide, the majority of whom reside in the United States. Based in New Haven, the K of C is among the most active charitable organizations in the United States. Last year, the Knights set new records by volunteering more than 70 million service hours to worthy causes and donating more than $158 million to charity.