For several months, the Knights of Columbus has had the privilege of undertaking a nationwide pilgrimage of the incorrupt heart of St. Jean Vianney. We have been deeply moved to see the impact of this relic on the faithful, and particularly on priests and seminarians as they implore the intercession of the patron saint of parish priests whose holiness and integrity they strive to emulate. We are especially mindful of this great saint’s example as bishops from around the world meet Feb. 21-24 at the Vatican under the leadership of Pope Francis to discuss the sexual abuse crisis.
In August, the Knights of Columbus committed to work for repentance, renewal and rebuilding of the Church. That commitment continues today as the Church and her leaders continue to come to grips with the damage that the scandal and its perpetrators have done to victims and to the entire Body of Christ. We repeat today: “Above all else, Knights — and our chaplains — must embrace love of God and love of neighbor. This is Christ’s great commandment and the founding mission of our Order.”
We also recall the powerful words of Pope Francis in his letter to the U.S. bishops on retreat in January: “This situation forces us to look to what is essential and to rid ourselves of all that stands in the way of a clear witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Now is the time for Brother Knights to be steadfast in our faith and in our support of the Church in forging a path of renewal and fraternity that puts Christ at the center. We must stand in solidarity with our priests and bishops, and join them and lay Catholics in forging a path of renewal and fraternity that puts Christ at the center. Only then can actions be taken to end this scourge. And in these dark days, we must not lose hope. In his letter to the bishops, the Holy Father made a similar point: “Amid the tempest, we must never lose faith in the quiet, daily and effective power of the Holy Spirit at work in human hearts and in all of history,” he wrote. “Credibility is born of trust, and trust is born of sincere, daily, humble and generous service to all, but especially to those dearest to the Lord’s heart.”
This effort must start with prayer. Prayer must guide and inform the bishops meeting in Rome and the urgent renewal needed in dioceses and parishes around the world. So we invite every Brother Knight and your families to join us in praying a special “Novena for Repentance, Renewal and Rebuilding” from Feb. 20-28. Together, our prayers will make a difference.
Carl A. Anderson
Most Reverend William E. Lori