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History of The Knights of Columbus Part 2 (1930 to 1940)

Updated: Jan 29, 2021

Council #5207's Lecturer presents a continued history of the Knights of Columbus:

1930 to 1940:

In the 1930s, the threat of atheistic communism was growing in Europe. In response, the Knights organized anti-communist rallies in early 1937.

1932: The 50th anniversary of the Knights is celebrated with Commemoration Week, June 24-30, 1932.

1935: On July 8, 1935, Supreme Knight Martin Carmody and other K of C officials meet with President Franklin D. Roosevelt about the ongoing situation in Mexico. A request was made that he make representations to Mexico over the persecution of Catholics in that country by a delegation of prominent members of the Knights of Columbus. The persecution ran many years and a Catholic rebellion…the Christos War claimed about 90,000 lives before it was ended by diplomatic means. Before the rebellion there were 4500 priests in Mexico. By 1934 only 334. 17 Mexican states had no priests. Due in part to the Order, United States Ambassador Dwight Whitney Morrow applied pressure to end the rebellion.

March 1937: When Pope Pius XI’s encyclical on the subject, Divini Redemptoris, was released in March of that year, the Order printed and distributed a million copies.

The Knights also sponsored a new lecture tour and expanded its anti-communism program to include a Crusade for Social Justice. During the Great Depression the Knights revived their antisocialism, a crusade that included a social justice component. Supreme Knight Martin Carmody said; “Injustice to man is the seed of communist growth.” and “With truth and Charity as your weapons, go forth as a Crusade.” At the Supreme Council meeting in August 1937, held in San Antonio, the crusade was unanimously endorsed by the delegates. Supreme Knight Martin Carmody reported that the Daily Worker, the official voice of the American Communist Party, had frequently vented "its wrath against the Knights of Columbus." Shortly after the convention, the Supreme Board of Directors approved Carmody's proposal to hire an anti-Communist lecturer, George Hermann Derry, who had been a member of the K. of C.'s Historical Commission Derry's lecture program, which was subject to the prior approval of the hierarchy, included a general public address sponsored by local Knights and an address to the clergy of the diocese on anti-Communist leadership.

1936: Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, Vatican secretary of state, visits the Knights of Columbus headquarters in New Haven. Part of an Oct-Nov tour. First Pope to visit the US at any time in his life. In 1939, Cardinal Pacelli becomes Pope Pius XII. One purpose of his visit was to curtail the activities of Fr. Charles Coughlin. He was a Canadian-American Catholic priest and populist leader who promoted antisemitic and pro-fascist... His radio talks reached millions of people foreshadowing the popularity of the current talk shows.

1939: Less than two weeks after World War II begins, Canadian Knights establish a welfare program for soldiers comparable to the KC huts program that operated during World War I. Within a year, Canadian Knights raise nearly $250,000 to support troops.

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