As a Catholic woman, I am very familiar with the faith-based, charity activities organized by our parish’s Knights of Columbus group.

I must have missed the memo saying it was a chauvinist, religious cabal intent on creating a pontifical version of “A Handmaid’s Tale”. It’s a good thing US senators Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) are on top of things.

These two grande dames of Congress recently raised concerns about Omaha-based lawyer Brian Buescher’s membership in the Knights of Columbus as part of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s review of his nomination by President Dondalt Trump for a position in the the U.S. District Court in Nebraska.

In a series of questions sent to Buescher, Hirono asked whether his membership in the Knights of Columbus would prevent him from hearing cases “fairly and impartially” and, if confirmed, whether he would end his membership in the Roman Catholic charitable organization.

“The Knights of Columbus has taken a number of extreme positions,” Hirono said in the questionnaire. “For example, it was reportedly one of the top contributors to California’s Proposition 8 campaign to ban same-sex marriage.”

…Harris, in her questions to the nominee, called the Knights of Columbus “an all-male society” and asked the Nebraska lawyer if he was aware that the group was anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage when he joined. The California senator also referenced Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson’s statement that abortion amounted to “the killing of the innocent on a massive scale” and asked Buescher if he agreed with the statement.

Buescher responded that his involvement in the group consisted mostly of charitable work and community events at his local Catholic parish. He indicated he would abide by judicial precedent regarding abortion.

Buescher responded with dignity and decorum in his written reply to these queries. He indicated that the organization’s official positions on issues do not represent those of the individual members and said he would recuse himself from hearing cases where he saw a conflict of interest.

The full suite of questions from the Senate Democrats makes for fascinating reading. Assuming 44% of Catholics are members of the Democratic Party, I think the following inquiry from Harris should be featured during the presidential campaign should she run…by one of her opponents.

…Since 1993, you have been a member of the Knights of Columbus, an all-male society comprised primarily of Catholic men. In 2016, Carl Anderson, leader of the Knights of Columbus, described abortion as “a legal regime that has resulted in more than 40 million deaths.” Mr. Anderson went on to say that “abortion is the killing of the innocent on a massive scale.”

a. Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed a woman’s right to choose when you joined the organization.

In short, it’s plain that the new “religious test is”: Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Knights of Columbus?

Many Americans are angry at the line of questioning.

Kathleen Blomquist, spokesperson for the Knights of Columbus, told CNA [Catholic News Agency] that the senators’ questions echoed the kind of anti-Catholicism seen in previous generations of American history.

“Our country’s sad history of anti-Catholic bigotry contributed to the founding of the Knights of Columbus, and we are proud of the many Catholics who overcame this hurdle to contribute so greatly to our country,” Blomquist told CNA

“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.”

Others put Harris’ and Hirono’s line of questioning into its proper perspective.

 
 
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