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Knights of Columbus

In the official history entitled The Knights of Columbus in Peace and War, by Maurice Francis Egan and John B. Kennedy (New Haven; Conn; 1920) it is stated that Michael Joseph McGivney, an assistant in St. Mary's Church, New Haven, "sometimes had the painful experience of seeing young Catholics enter fraternal societies either frowned upon or actually forbidden by the Church. " There had been since the Civil War a loose fraternity called Red Knights composed of Roman Catholics; a small number of these met with McGivney to discuss with him the formation of a fraternity. The first thought was to set up a branch of the Catholic Order of Foresters, with death benefits a principal feature. Instead it was finally decided to launch a new fraternity. This was in January, 1882.

At a third conference Knights of Columbus was adopted as the name. McGivney himself wrote three degrees of Ritual. The new secret society was incorporated by the State, March 29, 1882. The first lodge was formed April 6, 1882, at New Haven. The Supreme Council wss formed May 16, 1882, with C. T. Driscoll as Grand Knight. A Constitution was adopted on the 15th of the following month; and the revised and completed ritual, approved by Bishop McMahon, was adopted July 7, 1883.

Note. In its Annual meeting in St. Pnul, August, 1914, the Supreme Council of the K. of C. appointed a Commission on Religious Prejudices, a laudable undertaking which attracted the attention of the Masonic press because in a number of centers Masonic leaders co-operated with the Commission in the hopes of lessening the amount of senseless religious fanaticism. [See Final Report of Co1nstsston on Relioious Prejudices, Supreme Couneil, Knights of Columbus, Chicago, 1917.1 The Commission ultimately failed; perhaps it was not sufficiently broad, because it did not include among the many " bigotries " it was opposed to its own Church's Anti-Masonic Crusade. It failed also because it did not learn that to be continually and openly truthful is the one hope for success of any propaganda or educational campaign.

In the Commission's own Final Report occurs on page 41 this paragraph of mendacities. written by Mr. J. J. Farrel, Augusta, Ga. Manager of the Central Bureau: " Mi hen you say 'This is a Protestant country,' as you do say with all a printer's emphasis, you have no thought of it being a fact, I am eure. as you know that fewer than 20 per cent of all our ' people profess any Protestant belief, while in none of the 48 States is Protestantism in any form prescribed as a mode of belief or worship. But in forming opinion you ought to know the facts. You ought to know that the founder of the American Navy was a Catholic- John Paul Jones was a Scotchman and a Freemason member of two Lodgesl that the first General of the Cavalry was a Catholic, that the only Indians who fought with Washington were Catholics that the money which saved him and his army at Valley Forge was from Catholics, that when Cornwallis surrendered, which all agree made the success of the Revolution secure, more than half the army that opposed him was Catholic- that Catholic Poland, Catholic France, Catholic Spain furnished men, money, munitions and other help to our country and the Catholic States of Germany were the only German States where England couldn't hire troops, like the Hessians, to fight us.

"You ought to remember, sir, and I hope you can remember without misgivings, that the beginning of the breach between Washington and Arnold which finally led to the First Treason [there had been no ''breach''l, was because Arnold objected to Washington's surrounding himself with Catholic generals and aides."

In the Revolutionary War there were but a handful of Roman Catholics in the Colonies; even in Maryland they Reformed a minority. The great majority of men in the Colonies belonged to no church one historian calculates that 91 % did not but many attended who did not register as members. For concise biographies of the generals see Masonry in our Government: 1761- 1799, by Philip A. Roth- Milwaukee, Wisc.- 1927. Arnold's "breach" was not with Washington but with Gates; his court martial at Philadelphia he brought upon himself by dissipation gambling, ete. in the "Philadelphis set"; religion had no part in it.

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