Thursday, August 22, 2019 - Updated: 12:49 pm
MINNEAPOLIS — Five years after the Islamic State invaded northern Iraq and began systematically persecuting the country’s Christians, the Knights of Columbus are continuing their work of supporting Iraqi parishes that are rebuilding, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said in his annual report Aug. 6 at the Knights’ 137th Supreme Convention in Minneapolis.
“The road ahead for our Christian brothers and sisters is long and dangerous,” Anderson said, telling the 2,200 Knights, family members, clergy and others about the group’s new “Adopt a Parish” program, encouraging Knights councils to commit to two years of directly supporting parishes across Iraq. The initiative is in addition to the $25 million already committed to helping the Middle East region and its displaced and threatened people since 2014, he said.
“As new threats emerge, the Knights of Columbus will be there with prayers and support,” Anderson said. “We will work to ensure that Christianity has a future in the lands where it first flourished.”
Six cardinals, 75 bishops and more than 115 priests attended the convention. Attendees represented 14 countries in North America, Europe and Asia.
Last year, the Knights gave $185 million in charitable donations and dedicated 76 million volunteer hours. The Knights’ insurance arm also provided $1 billion in benefits to members and their families.
Anderson said the Knights have continued to grow with the addition of college councils and councils in Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, South Korea and France.
Support for human dignity in many forms underlies the work done by the Knights’ roughly 16,000 councils, Anderson said. He said in January the Knights met a 10-year goal of placing 1,000 ultrasound machines in pregnancy resource centers throughout the United States.
“Our ultrasound initiative is now the greatest humanitarian achievement in the history of the Knights of Columbus. ... We can, and I am confident that we will, save millions of unborn lives. But pro-life is not only a matter of charity. It is also a matter of justice.”
Looking toward the U.S. southern border, the order will commit at least $250,000 in humanitarian aid to assist refugees.
“As Catholic men and family men, we are all deeply concerned for the plight of the refugees who have fled their homelands into ours,” Anderson said.
Anderson also updated members on the organization’s ongoing work in disaster relief, Special Olympics, military service members, building marriage and family life, safe environments for children, fighting racism and protecting religious liberty.