Published from 1982-96, Fidelity magazine was the predecessor of Culture Wars.

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Super Mario Escapes Again (With a Little Help From His Friends)

by James G. Bruen, Jr.

From the April 1993 issue of Fidelity magazine


You may remember Mike Dwyre. His story was told in the July/August 1992 issue of Fidelity. A Knight of Columbus, he waged a militantly prochoice campaign for the Virginia House of Delegates. Despite the demands of prolifers, his council refused to expel him, claiming it was following the directions of the K of C’s national leadership and the wishes of members of the hierarchy, including John Cardinal O’Connor. I and several other Knights nevertheless filed a formal complaint under the Order’s rules, alleging that Dwyre should be disciplined for giving scandal. After a trial, the council suspended Dwyre indefinitely. When the article ran in Fidelity, Dwyre still had time to appeal that decision. He did not, and the suspension held.


In the article, I set forth the procedure that must be followed to discipline a Knight who gives scandal, and I argued that all publicly prochoice Knights should be forced to make the choice between their proabortion stance and their membership in the Knights. In contrast, Russell Shaw, national spokesman for the Knights, reacted to the Fidelity story by telling the Catholic News Service that the suspension was a “local matter.”


Early in October, Cardinal O’Connor addressed an assembly of Knights in New York and, based on the article in Fidelity, strongly criticized prochoice Knights, who, he said, are “giving public scandal.” He also noted that the Order’s rules require suspension or expulsion of Knights guilty of giving scandal. His talk was reported in his diocesan paper and in the secular press.


On the same day, Cardinal O’Connor also wrote a lengthy letter that appeared in the January issue of this magazine. In that letter, the Cardinal took “strong exception to the use of my name in a fashion that could be construed to support inaction on the part of the Knights of Columbus in regard to the published positions and activities attributed to Mr. Mike Dwyre.” Cardinal O’Connor also commented that it seemed to him “that due process was followed” in the Dwyre case and that “the process ... could be helpful to councils everywhere.”


After hearing the Cardinal’s speech, a group of Knights decided to file a similar complaint alleging that the proabortion statements, policies, and actions of Governor Mario Cuomo, a Knight, required that he be sanctioned by the Order for giving scandal. The group included more than a dozen Knights; I was not involved. They patterned their complaint on that against Dwyre and attached a copy of the Fidelity article. But Grand Knight Ben Fernando of Jamaica Council #337 bounced it back to them as “improperly” drawn up. What gives here?


Although Mr. Shaw thought Dwyre’s suspension was a local matter, the national K of C apparently agreed with my conclusion and that of the Cardinal that it could be a helpful precedent for other councils. So, I have confirmed, the Knights amended their rules in August to curtail further filings! In what Jim Morgan, a New Jersey Knight long involved in the struggle to discipline prochoice Knights, has dubbed the “Bruen Amendment,” the Order’s rules now say that only a Knight from the miscreant’s local council may file a complaint. The rules previously required any Knight, no matter what council he was in, to file a complaint if he knew of the scandalous situation. (I am not in the same council that Dwyre belonged to). And, to further restrict that ability to file a complaint, the amended rules provide that only Third or Fourth Degree Knights may file a complaint. (I am a First Degree Knight.) Apparently First and Second Degree Knights are supposed to grin and bear the scandalous situation!


It is incongruous for a self-proclaimed prolife group to make it more difficult procedurally to discipline the proabortion givers of scandal within their midst. The Knights changed the rules so that proabortion politicians can be protected. One might analogize this to changing the rules of a game in the middle of the game, but this is no game. Abortion is an unspeakable crime, and those who promote it are necessarily giving scandal. The Knights, however, seem more interested in selling insurance or in claiming prominent politicians as members than they are in giving unblemished witness to the sanctity of human life. And that’s not chivalrous. It’s a shame.


James G. Bruen, Jr. is an attorney.

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The K of C prides itself on its prolife stance and prolife activities, and Knights are supposed to be "practical" Catholics. Nevertheless, the K of C includes men who are publicly and adamantly proabortion or prochoice. Errant Knight: The Scandal of Prochoice Knights by James G. Bruen, Jr. details the efforts of a group of individual Knights to sanction a brother Knight who was a publicly prochoice politician. It describes the personalities, pleadings, and internal K of C practices and procedures that led to a sentence of indefinite suspension of the Knight after a trial committee found him guilty of giving scandal, as well as the aftermath of his conviction. Must reading for Knights and for all interested in the K of C. Give a copy of this short e-book to every Knight you know. $2.99. Read More/Buy

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