Religion: Knights of the Church

Small boys, grown men—and especially Irishmen—love secret societies. In 1882, Father Michael J. McGivney, a Roman Catholic priest in New Haven, Conn., was so worried about this tendency that he decided to join it. Though he knew that church teaching forbade Catholics to join existing secret organizations, he proposed to his fellow priests of the Hartford diocese that they start a society of their own, to keep their immigrant Irish-Catholic parishioners out of the clutches of groups like the Masons or the Oddfellows. Wrote Father McGivney, "Our primary object is to prevent our people from entering secret societies, by offering the...

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