I recently addressed my brother Knights of Columbus during the Colorado State Council Convention in Keystone, Colo.
Charity was a key principle for Father Michael J. McGivney when founding the Knights in the 1880s. Their concern for the most vulnerable dates back to its earliest days when the Knights “passed the hat” to care for widows and orphans. We still witness it today in so many ways, as when they worked shoulder to shoulder with us serving those in need after the devastating floods in northern Colorado last September.
My recent encounters with these cherished Knights and Ladies of Columbus inspired a vision: we need knights in shining armor—men, women and youth everywhere—to continue joining forces with Catholic Charities, working with Catholic parishes and all people of good will to respond to the newest face of poverty among us: single women with children.
We see it every day at Catholic Charities throughout our three circles: Women’s Services, Housing and Shelter Services, and Family and Child Care Services. The war on women is real. But it’s not being conducted by Catholics and certainly not by the Knights of Columbus.
The culture asks women to contracept. Then, when they become pregnant, it asks them to abort. If they don’t abort and keep the child, many times they are ostracized from their family or violently abused by a partner. They are often left to raise their child completely alone.
That is a war on women. It’s a slow-motion war that has been waged for decades, with many casualties. With no truce in sight, our immediate response must be love, mercy and charity. Pope Francis said last year that he sees the Church as “a field hospital after battle.” Catholic Charities, in partnership with our parishes, is working hard to mobilize that field hospital here in Colorado. I invited the Knights in Keystone to join us by taking any and all of the following action. I ask anyone reading this to do the same:
•Sign up to receive e-mail communications from Catholic Charities. Simply e-mail your request to email@example.com.
•Join our prayer network, which includes Savers of Souls: prayer warriors committed to one hour of prayer per month in front of Planned Parenthood, together covering the facility in prayer every open hour. (Lighthouse, the pregnancy resource center run by Catholic Charities, is right across the street.)
•Contribute to a statewide diaper bank soon to be launched for newborns in need. The Knights’ Ladies Auxiliary is already involved.
•Participate in—and help expand—canned food drives in your parish. As directed by parishes, Catholic Charities will be working with the Knights to accomplish this.
When Father McGivney died at age 38, he had already set in motion what became “the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization”—the Knights of Columbus. If he can do that, we can, in solidarity, make a response equally historic.
Larry Smith is the president and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Denver Archdiocese. Visit online at www.ccdenver.org or call 303-742-0828 to learn more, volunteer or make a donation. See a video of Smith discussing the “Real war on women: A life of poverty” here: http://www.ccdenver.org/about/call-to-charity.