Dedicated Pro-Life Leader Announces His Retirement

A Tribute to Knights of Columbus, Supreme Knight, Carl A. Anderson 

By Ernest Ohlhoff, Director of Outreach

Carl Anderson
Photo: Knights of Columbus

A great pro-life advocate and strong Catholic leader, Carl Anderson, has announced his retirement as Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus.  The Knights, which is the world’s largest Catholic family, fraternal, service organization, has nearly 2 million members and 16,000 councils worldwide, including 600 on college campuses.

Since its founding in 1882 by Father Michael J. McGivney, the Knights of Columbus has provided humanitarian and charitable care to the poor and needy.  They have also steadfastly supported innocent human life from conception to natural death.  In the late 1960’s, the Knights of Columbus opposed the liberalization of laws allowing abortion and after the U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous, 1973, Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion on demand, it was one of the first organizations to strongly oppose the decision and begin organized efforts to counter it.

Assuming the position of Supreme Knight in 2000, Anderson continued and strengthened the Knights’ pro-life activities at every level from the Supreme Headquarters to the local Councils. He also expanded the Knights’ public outreach efforts, including co-sponsoring the News Nightly program on the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN).

One of the most successful pro-life projects implemented under Anderson’s leadership was the Knights’ sonogram program which has donated over 1,000 ultrasound machines to pregnancy centers around the world.  That initiative has helped numerous, abortion-minded mothers choose life for their babies.  In addition, thousands of Knights have joined pro-life grass roots organizations, participated in pro-life marches and rallies, manned exhibit tables at pro-life events, and helped in hundreds of other ways to spread the pro-life message. 

In the face of political turmoil in the United States over the continued legalization of abortion, Supreme Knight Anderson was quoted in a National Catholic Register headline in 2016, with the following, powerful admonition:

Carl Anderson to Voters: ‘Stop Creating Excuses for Voting for Pro-Abortion Politicians’

“We will never succeed in building a culture of life if we continue to vote for politicians who support a culture of death,’ said the head of the Knights of Columbus at the group’s international gathering on Aug. 2.”

Anderson is a member of the bar of the District of Columbia and is admitted to practice law before the U.S. Supreme Court.  He also served in the federal government prior to becoming Supreme Knight, including working within the Reagan White House as special assistant to the president and acting director of the White House Office of Public Liaison where he was responsible for organizing, among other important things, meetings with pro-life leaders on January 22 each year with President Reagan. He later served for nearly a decade as a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

From 1983 to 1998, Anderson taught as a visiting professor of family law at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome. In 1988, he became the founding vice president and first dean of the Washington, D.C., session of this graduate school of theology now located at The Catholic University of America.

Anderson has authored numerous books including two New York Times bestsellers, A Civilization of Love: What Every Catholic Can Do to Transform the World; and Our Lady of Guadalupe: Mother of the Civilization of Love (co-authored with Msgr. Eduardo Chávez).

Carl Anderson was born on February 27, 1951 in Torrington, CT, attended Seattle University, and the University of Denver where he received a law degree.  Anderson and his wife, Dorian, are the parents of five children.

Even though Anderson is no longer in the prestigious position of Supreme Knight, his great energy, expertise, and dedication to the pro-life cause will undoubtedly continue to benefit society through whatever projects or activities he takes on in the future.  As noted by Carol Tobias, President of the National Right to Life Committee, “In his many years of service, Carl Anderson has contributed greatly to the pro-life cause in America.  We thank him for his tremendous efforts and wish him well in his retirement.” 

As Director of Outreach for NRLC, I would simply add, “Well done loyal, skilled, and faithful servant, but I am confident that God is not finished with you yet.  May He bless you abundantly in the years to come!”