The Knights of Columbus fired back at criticism from Democratic Senators Kamala Harris and Mazie Hirono by inviting them to see their “extreme positions” in person.
The Washington, D.C.-area Knights of Columbus Council addressed the Democrats in an open letter, citing concerns that the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee had expressed in questions to President Trump’s judicial nominee, Brian C. Buescher.
“We recently read about statements which expressed the fear that the Knights of Columbus held many extreme beliefs. It is our great pleasure to assure you that this fear is not grounded in any truth,” the Patrick Cardinal O’Boyle Council 11302 explained in the letter.
The Democratic senators had questioned if Buescher’s membership in the Catholic charitable organization might prevent him from hearing cases “fairly and impartially.”
Hirono had argued that “the Knights of Columbus has taken a number of extreme positions,” in written questions sent to Buescher earlier this month. “For example, it was reportedly one of the top contributors to California’s Proposition 8 campaign to ban same-sex marriage.”
Harris asked Buescher if he agreed with a statement by Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson who said that abortion constituted “the killing of the innocent on a massive scale.” Buescher had responded that he was not responsible for statements or policies made by the Knights.
“According to these senators, every practicing Catholic should quit the bench because they’re extremists,” Rev. Gerald Murray told Fox News’ Shannon Bream on Thursday.
In their open letter, the group gave the senators a reality check, listing the many activities and events they were part of to “help to assure you that we are simply a group aiming to do God’s work while building friendships.”
“In the past few months O’Boyle Council has worked with local parishes including St Peter’s (House-side Catholic church) and St Joseph’s (Senate-side Catholic church) to raise funds and give away over $4,000 worth of coats to neighborhood children, collect soda and beer can tabs to donate to the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Institute which helps the developmentally disabled, and collect diapers and other supplies for new mothers in need,” the Capitol Hill-area Knights of Columbus Council stated.
“Over the course of the past year we donated an ultrasound machine to a clinic, picked up trash around Nationals Park, and donated supplies to a local school. We do all this as well as social gatherings and spiritual events,” the letter continued.
They also invited the lawmakers and their staff members to join them “for any social or charitable event.”
“In fact, this February we are doing the Polar Plunge to raise funds for DC Special Olympics. You and anyone you know are more than welcome to join us either jumping in the cold water or sponsoring our team,” they wrote.
The line of questioning by Harris and Hirono certainly seemed to imply that Buescher, a nominee to sit on the U.S. District Court in Nebraska, had his impartiality affected by being a member of the group which Harris even called out as “an all-male society comprised primarily of Catholic men.”
“If confirmed, I would be bound by precedent of the United States Supreme Court and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and would not be guided by statements made by others,” Buescher had responded.
Kathleen Blomquist, spokesperson for the Knights of Columbus, had condemned the questioning and implication that the group could be seen as a “disqualifier” for office.
“We were extremely disappointed to see that one’s commitment to Catholic principles through membership in the Knights of Columbus—a charitable organization that adheres to and promotes Catholic teachings—would be viewed as a disqualifier from public service in this day and age,” she told the Catholic News Agency.
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