With 75 percent of their members above the age of 51, the Knights of Columbus in Quebec are experiencing a slow decline—a trend that is also seen in other parts of Canada, reports the Swiss-based international Catholic news agency APIC (Nov. 28).
A Catholic fraternal organization with a worldwide membership of 1.7 million, the Knights of Columbus were founded in the U.S. in 1882 and have been present in the French-speaking part of Canada since 1897. They still number 100,000 adherents in Quebec, but around a third of them are nearing the age of 70 and there are only 4,000 members below the age of 30. Over the past three years, the organization lost 5,000 members in Quebec. The situation does not look much better in Ontario, where there are still 56,000 Knights, but new members cannot make up for the deaths of older members.
The aging of the movement is an issue of concern to the leadership of the Knights in Canada. They relate the situation to a decline of the interest in religion in general, but point out that the movement is flourishing in other areas of the world: for instance, the growth rate in California is said to be 200 percent per year.