To the Knights of Columbus and Their Friends
From the start, as the Preface to Volume I declares, it was determined that this encyclopedia should not be exclusively a Church publication, containing only matters of special interest to the clergy. It is intended for the layman as well as for the priest; and, consequently, it contains all that he needs to know, treated from his point of view.
The Editor-in-Chief and the Managing Editor are laymen, as were fully 500 of the contributors, and 150 editorial assistants. With them the clerical editors and contributors have co-operated in full appreciation of the importance of producing a work which in content and style would satisfy the scholar in his study and yet interest the man in the street.
For this Encyclopedia is designed to be the starting-point of a movement among Catholics, a great educational movement in every Catholic home in the land, the source of a literature that will once more as in the days before the Reformation employ the English tongue in the cause of Catholic truth. It is verily an educational and literary crusade, and as such it must appeal strongly to every member of an Order whose members, in the words of Archbishop Ireland, "aim to be the trusted auxiliaries of the Church, her organized chivalry, ever first and foremost when her call is heard, or her banner leads".
We have but lately completed our achievement of providing for the Catholic University of America the half million dollar scholarship foundation which is to enable Catholic young men from every part of the land to take advantage of the educational facilities of that great institution.
Here is an offer which brings all the advantages that The Catholic University can at present afford and more right into our own homes. The Catholic Encyclopedia is a veritable Catholic Home University. It has been truly styled "a university in print". Few, if any, of our membership, are in a position to take advantage of the Catholic University foundation; scarcely one is unable to avail himself of an offer, which brings to every Catholic home the best the University can give.
As if divining that the Knights of Columbus would take on themselves the task of giving the widest possible circulation to The Catholic Encyclopedia, His Grace, Archbishop Ireland, discoursing on "The Typical Catholic Layman of America", before the Supreme Council of the Order lately assembled in St. Paul, recommended the work in the following eloquent terms:
"An intelligent laity is the prime need of the Church to-day, in America. The battle is opened. It is a flood of contradiction, of misrepresentation, of calumnies. History is perverted; Catholic discipline is travestied. When the Church, as seen daily, cannot with safety be assailed, the appeal is to centuries of long ago, more unfamiliar to the reader—to remote lands whence no contradiction may come. The remedy is intelligence of all important matters concerning the Church at home and abroad, intelligence that Catholics be guarded from poisonous inoculation, and be, at the same time, in a position to influence public opinion in favor of truth and justice. The most ready arm is the press: hence the duty of the hour is to give generous support to the Catholic newspaper, to read it, to distribute it, supplementing it, as occasion permits, with magazine and book. One book, the summary of thousands, I especially recommend, The Catholic Encyclopedia".
- James A. Flaherty,
- Joseph C, Pelletier,
- William J. McGinley,
- Catholic Truth Committee of the Knights of Columbus.