As regular readers of P&P know, I am a member of the Knight's of Columbus.
I have been an active, engaged member of the largest Catholic Fraternal organization in the world for 25 years.
Like all service organizations, attracting new membership is vital to continuance of our order which in turns means more charitable programs, more help for the needy, the hungry, the disabled, the homeless, more financial protection for Catholic families.
There 1.8 million members of the Knights of Columbus. However no a single member is a women. Not one. It is a men's organization.
Yesterday, I approached a parishioner about joining the Knights of Columbus. I have known this man to be a devout Catholic all of his life. As a father of two, I have sought him out as an individual who could offer so much to the Knights of Columbus. His answer was as short, as it was simple.
"Peter, do you remember what I told you last time". I honestly did not! He said "I'll join the Knights when my daughter can?"
This time, I heard him loud and clear. I do not have a daughter, I have three boys. I have never thought to view the Knights through the lens of gender. Would I be as active in the organization as I am if I had a daughter that could not join because she is the wrong sex? The wrong sex for what exactly?
Is a women not her brothers keeper? Why can women not be members of a catholic organization that promotes unity, fraternity and charity? How can we talk about Catholic solidarity when we exclude women? Where is the social justice in denying member ship to our wives, daughters, nieces and mother?
Many are going to say, the women have the Catholic Women's League, or the Knight's Auxiliary. IS that really good enough?
If membership is about renewing our ranks and renewing the church through Catholic solidarity than the Knights need to rethink it's approach. Just because we have been a men's organization for over 125 years is no reason not to invite change, to treat women as our true equals and rethink old ways.
As a Grand Knight, I intend to question this approach and strive for change.
We can do better.