PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 6, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a letter of papal greeting to the Knights of Columbus Supreme Convention, Pope Francis expressed his "warm good wishes" to all present.
On the issue of the "protection of religious freedom" and "in response to the attacks unleashed on minority communities, most often Christian, in various parts of our world," the letter also noted that Pope Francis is "profoundly grateful for the efforts of the Knights to raise public attention to this grave humanitarian tragedy."
It also expressed the pope's gratitude "for the practical solidarity shown to suffering individuals and families through the recently established Christian Refugee Relief Fund." And the pope asked the Knights and Catholics throughout the world to pray for "a conversion of hearts, an end to fanatical violence and intolerance, and a general recognition of those fundamental human rights which are not granted by the state, but from the hand of the Creator, whom all believers invoke as a God of peace."
The letter stated: "His Holiness trusts that the theme of this year's Supreme Convention – Endowed by their Creator with Life and Liberty – will draw attention to the duty of American Catholics, precisely as responsible citizens, to contribute to the reasoned defense of those freedoms on which their nation was founded. The cornerstone of these is religious freedom, understood not simply as the liberty to worship as one chooses, but also, for individuals and institutions, to speak and act in accordance with the dictates of their conscience."
Specifically conveyed were the pope's "deep appreciation for the steadfast public witness which [the Knights of Columbus] has borne to our Christian understanding of marriage and family. Elevated by the Savior to the dignity of a sacrament, marriage is, in the Creator's plan, a natural institution, a life-long covenant of love and fidelity between a man and a woman, directed to their perfection and sanctification…" Additionally, the letter stated the pope's hope that the "program of catechesis and prayer which the Knights of Columbus has inaugurated in view of the forthcoming Synod on the Family and the World Meeting of Families will contribute significantly to this prophetic witness."
Pope Francis' sentiments were expressed in a letter of greeting signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
The letter concludes with the Holy Father's "appreciation for the outstanding charitable, educational and spiritual activities with which the Knights of Columbus contribute to the Church's mission" and to the pope's "own ministry as the Successor of Peter."
SOURCE Knights of Columbus