Monday, July 6, 2009

Why Fr. McGivney would boycott the Knights of Columbus

Well, I guess I must have struck a nerve when I suggested that policyholders divest from the Knights of Columbus. The Catholic News Agency ran an article on my blog post “Boycott the Knights of Columbus.” You may read the full article at

When Father McGivney founded the K of C in the nineteenth century, it was to assist poor immigrant families. When the family’s breadwinner died, the rest of the family was left destitute. The idea of providing affordable life insurance to poor working immigrants was to protect those families in the face of such a catastrophic loss. I think that if Father McGiveny were alive today, he would most probably want the K of C to help the poor and immigrants of our time.

Take a short drive to your local hospital. Walk into the Emergency Room and you will find many poor people who go there for primary medical care because they have no health insurance. Speak to the nursing staff and ask them how many uninsured people they treat on an average day. I think that Fr. McGiveney would want the K of C to abide by it original intention and design that of providing low cost health insurance to the poor. They should be working to pass national public health insurance legislation that would benefit all citizens of this great nation. It is a national shame that we spend trillions of dollars on a war condemned by Pope John Paul II, and in violation of Thomas Aquinas’ just war theory, while not spending a small fraction of that cost to provide a comprehensive health care plan for the most vulnerable of our society. We are the only industrialized nation that fails to provide national health care for its citizens. That is a cause worthy of the efforts of the K of C.

Why didn't the leadership of the K of C join its voices to that of the late Pope John Paul II in his opposition to the war in Iraq? Why don't they raise their voices in union with the Pope in his opposition to capital punishment and work to end such laws in our nation? It seems that the leadership of the K of C is rather politically partisan in its "orthodoxy." Perhaps it is time for K of C members to consider a change in their national leadership.

Immigrants were very close to Fr. McGivney’s heart. Since politics is the proper sphere for the laity, perhaps the K of C could also use their considerable wealth and influence, mentioned in the C.N.A. article, to promote a national immigration law that reflects Catholic social teaching. I think father McGivney would agree that health care and just immigration laws are the two most urgent priorities facing both the poor and the leadership of the K of C today. The K of C’s leadership has lost its founder’s vision and has failed to work aggressively for health insurance for the poor and to protect the rights of immigrants. These constitute sins of omission, and their act to strip a minority group of their legal and civil rights constitutes a sin of commission.

An economic boycott was successfully applied to persuade the apartheid government of South Africa into doing the right thing. That boycott was not motivated by a desire for vengeance, but rather out of a thirst for justice, fairness and equality. It is for those very same reasons that I ask the faithful to pressure the K of C through a boycott. I ask fair minded K of C members to write to their national leadership and ask that they return this organization to the vision established by its founder and to stop its hateful attacks on the legal rights of same sex couples. I call upon them to return to the teachings of Jesus and follow the Great Commandment to love your neighbor as yourself.


Teddy Pedersen said...

That news article is full of distortions and lies about you. Also, calling you a "rogue priest" cracks me up. I feel bad that people are saying such ugly things about you. That hurts me. And the K of C is not a Catholic Lay organization, it is a political front for the GOP. Fr. McGivney would be appalled that a Catholic benevolent organization would give $1 million to persecute gay people (as opposed to that money being used for charitable purposes). In fact, I think you should start a campaign to get the IRS to take away the tax-free status of of the K of C. They are a right-wing political PAC, they are no longer a charity. Get in touch with the Rev. Barry Lynn at Americans United for Separation of Church and State and they can do an IRS complaint:
The K of C should be paying taxes.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...


Anonymous said...

Let's face it: religon is a pissing contest, and since the female anatomy doesn't facilitate (until we develop necessary skills, we just end up with piddle on our shoes) - it's about men and power.... In a patriarchal system, there really is only one man who matters - the rest are forced into impotence - sexually, emotionally, financially - and let's face it, impotence is a lie against our very nature of being created in image and likeness. The genuine failure of the church and its hierarchy lies in man's lack of faith in God - and they project onto the rest of us, their own insecurities and their own perversion for power.

But the joke of it all is that they can huff and puff and screech and silence and ex-communicate all they want, the reality of REAL PRESENCE is pervasive - just as God is pervasive throughout all of creation.

And when I am in that dialogic place with others in communion with God, the men in ruby slippers or ostrich plumes are seen for what they are - spiritual terrorists. When I am in the presence of authentic people who know love and be love, whom shall I fear?

God has set you a banquet of love in the face of hatred - and there's no greater source of haters than in church. We can't change people who are hard of face and obstinate of heart. Those of us who choose to remain in the Church have to find a way inside of ourselves to be able to live alongside of them. Their screeching and yowling may sprew hatred all over the place, but in our mere presence in the midst of it all, is us participating in the reality of God who is found in the still, small voice - and it's in that still, small voice where people who are sick and tired of being motivated by terrorists and fearmongers, who are ready for mature faith that comes from their marrow, will find God in the midst of the tempest.

Jesus didn't come down to earth to make the powerful more powerful, he came here to show us all - regardless of how disempowered those in power make us, no matter how alienated, judged and disenfranchised leaders lead us to believe - our own true power and source and beauty.

Anonymous said...

Father Geoff...I had emailed this article to you from another blog clericalwhispers.....

I am very grateful to see your response to it and to help people see and understand just how far this organizatin like the Church has strayed from its founders mission.....

I am sure your work is lonely and at times very painful, but you are not alone...many many people are praying for you..

Thank you for all you do
Fr Vince

andy b said...

Off topic, but this caught my eye when reading Andrew Sullivan's blog...apparently they are selling your old desk:

Anonymous said...

Father Mcgivney would have said that the Knights need to start their OWN health and medical insurance and not leave it up to the government.

The Knights and its members could start a health program, purchase hospitals in the US and abroad to help not only its members but the needy as well.

as our Lady of Orleans said' Aide du toi et tui adeira'.