By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Just before being appointed to President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Harry Knox told a gay newspaper that the Knights of Columbus “do a great deal of good” but they are following “discredited leaders” such as Pope Benedict.
Knox, an active homosexual, was formerly the director of the faith and religion program at the Human Rights Campaign, a prominent homosexual rights organization. He made the offensive comments in March during an interview with the Bay Area Reporter, a San Francisco-based gay newspaper.
Speaking about the Knight’s support for California’s Proposition 8, the ballot amendment that defined marriage as between one man and one woman, Knox said: “The Knights of Columbus do a great deal of good in the name of Jesus Christ, but in this particular case, they were foot soldiers of a discredited army of oppression.”
The newspaper further reported: “Knox noted that the Knights of Columbus ‘followed discredited leaders,’ including bishops and Pope Benedict XVI. ‘A pope who literally today said condoms don’t help in control of AIDS.'”
In an interview with CNSNews.com after his appointment, Knox stood by his comments about the pope. This prompted many groups to protest the appointment, including the Family Research Council and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a recent convert to Catholicism.
House Republican Conference chairman Mike Pence (R-IN) issued a statement calling for Obama to withdraw the appointment.
“Appointing a man who has publicly attacked the pope and other religious leaders for their support of traditional marriage is deeply offensive to millions of Americans and the faith-based community he is appointed to serve,” Pence said in a written statement. “I call on the president to withdraw this appointment and select a person who can serve the faith-based community with the respect and dignity it deserves.”
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, also chided the Obama administration for appointing someone like Knox, who was denied ordination in a Protestant seminary because of his homosexuality, and who also has a history of anti-Catholicism.
“Though Knox is not Catholic, he could not resist blasting the Catholic Church when it decided a few years back to ban homosexual candidates for the priesthood who ‘supported gay culture.’ He branded this commonsensical position ‘an attempt at mind control’ and a ‘dangerous and immoral’ stance,” Donohue wrote in an April 7 press release.
“In other words, he wants the Catholic Church to accept candidates like himself, practicing homosexuals so radical that even liberal mainline Protestant seminaries turn them away. Catholics take note: the Obama administration would never appoint an anti-gay person to any post. But it has no problem appointing anti-Catholics.”
When questioned about the incident this week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Catholic, said she was unaware of Knox’s comments, but defended the church and the pope. “His Holiness is the head of an organization that has done more to alleviate poverty, eradicate disease, and is now addressing climate change issue and the rest. I am just not familiar with the statement and the circumstance.”
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