Here's the story from Catholic World News:
The leadership of the Knights of Columbus (K of C) has forbidden local councils to take any action against members of the Catholic fraternal organization who support legalized abortion or same-sex marriage.
A Massachusetts K of C member had proposed a resolution, to be taken up by the group's state convention, calling for the suspension of membership of any politician who gave public support to abortion and same-sex marriage. That resolution was declared inappropriate by the Supreme Advocate of the K of C, John Marrella.
In a letter to the Massachusetts K of C leadership, Marrella declared that "a subordinate council may not impose fraternal discipline with respect to a public figure's official actions on matters pertaining to faith and morals. Rather, any such discipline must be made by or at the direction of the Supreme Board of Directors."
"We recognize that some of our members who are public figures may use their public position to advocate or support policy positions that are contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church on matters of faith and morals," Marrella conceded in his letter. He went on to admit that such public advocacy "contradicts the Catholic identity and mission of the Order."
Nevertheless, the top legal official of the K of C said that any action taken against K of C members who are public figures would "necessarily affect the entire Order." For that reason, he said, any disciplinary action should be taken by the group's top leadership.
Marrella went on to say that the K of C would not go further than the American bishops in taking public action against members whose public stands conflict with Church moral teachings. "If the public figure's bishop has not excommunicated him for his public positions on issues relating to matters of faith and morals, it would be highly inappropriate for the Knights of Columbus to do so," he wrote.
The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts, which had supported the proposed resolution at the state convention, decried the intervention by the top K of C office as an "abdication of responsibility." C.J. Doyle, the executive director of the Catholic Action League, said: "This letter effectively kills any grassroots initiative within the Knights to address the scandal of pro-abortion pols in the Order."
The Catholic Action League charged that the K of C's refusal to take action against pro-abortion members would allow the continuation of a public scandal. "In the 37 years since Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Board of Directors has never, to public knowledge, removed a single pro-abortion political figure from the Knights of Columbus," Doyle noted. "In Massachusetts, a majority of Knights serving in the Legislature voted in 2007 against a constitutional amendment restoring traditional marriage, and voted in 2005 for a law which compels Catholic hospitals to distribute the so-called morning-after pill to rape victims."