Knights to the Rescue
Maybe it was the Iraqi-born bishop praying the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic, the language that Jesus spoke.
Maybe it was being in the same venue here where Pope John Paul II spoke in 1999.
Maybe it was my whining about multiple silly inconveniences and humiliations earlier in the day.
Maybe it was seeing the men visibly moved by their membership in an organization that is doing real good in the world.
Maybe it was because as I was listening to the report being delivered at the Knights of Columbus annual convention, I couldn’t help but think “solution.” These men, many of them sitting beside their wives, some of them with children and grandchildren, are the solution, perhaps, to many problems besetting the world today. They look around and see need and then work to meet it; they’re not waiting around for someone else to solve the problem.
Maybe all this is why the Knights managed to get me to open my wallet and part with $2,000. That’s about the amount of money it took the country of Hungary to move a refugee family back to the town of Tel Skuf on the Nineveh Plain in Iraq. And now the Knights are following Hungary’s lead, raising money to rebuild the neighboring town of Karamdes in cooperation with the Archdiocese of Erbil in Kurdistan, which has been the temporary home to most of the Christians who fled ISIS terrorism in the area.
For $2 million, the people of Karamdes can have a future — get assessments of the extent of the damage done to their houses and vital support for rebuilding (something most of the families will do themselves). This initiative is an extension of the Knights’ Christians at Risk relief fund, which has provided $13 million to help Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq and Syria. The Knights of Columbus, the largest fraternal order of Catholic men in the world, also runs an insurance agency and takes no overhead — all donations go to those in need.
One of the most piercing blows for a family is to not know how to provide for a child’s future — ensuring an education and the possibility of putting it to use in the world. What the Knights have contributed in Erbil and now Karamdes is an effort to keep hope alive and make life possible. I’m calling it the #SavetheChristians challenge — a few Church, school and other community groups and friends getting together wouldn’t be a tremendous sacrifice, but would be a significant gift to those in need.
Learning of the Karamdes plan and listening to the Knights’ address brought me back to Election Day this past year. Faced with two bad choices as far as I was concerned, and living in a state where the election outcome would be a win for Hillary Clinton, I did something I never thought I would do: I wrote in a candidate. And so, Carl Anderson, the leader of the Knights and the man who delivered the address in St. Louis, was my candidate for president. I voted for someone with executive experience and moral character who knows the world around him and works to make a constructive contribution to it using the resources at his disposal. That’s all we should be looking for in our political leaders.
It’s notable that in Anderson’s annual address to the Knights, the additional initiative to save 1 million lives in 10 years by placing 1,000 ultrasound machines in pregnancy care centers was almost a footnote — not because it is not a priority, but because the good news about good works was overflowing.
There were three moments during his address where Anderson’s emotions were clear: talking about the ultrasounds, Karamdes, and trust in Jesus. Which may be all you need to know about the Knights of Columbus and what’s most important — certainly most significant — about their presence in the United States and the world today.
In talking about Iraq, Anderson quotes Winston Churchill in 1941: “Put your confidence in us … We shall not fail or falter, we shall not weaken or tire. We will give you the tools and together we will finish the job.”
My $2,000 is in good hands. The lesson of the Knights is that indifference is never an appropriate option. We’re never powerless to love.
COPYRIGHT 2017 United Feature Syndicate