The Knights of Columbus are quite distinct from the Knights of Malta and Knights of Holy Sepulcher. The latter are true orders of chivalry and their knighthoods are recognised as such by governments around the world as a legitimate order of knighthood. Holy Seplucher has a cardinal as grand master and the pope is sovereign of the order and its knights and dames must be approved by the Vatican Secretary of State in the name of the pope. It is a singular papal honour. Malta is a sovereign independent order of knights and dames though Catholic in character. The Vatican does not have a voice in who becomes a knight or dame of Malta. The pope also honours Catholics with other orders of knighthood such as the Orders of Pius IX, St Gregory and St Sylvester. The Knights of Columbus is a Catholic mens' fraternal insurance association founded by an American priest. The Knights of Columbus espouse the virtues of knighthood...but, it is not an order of chivalry and is not recognised as such by governments nor the Vatican itself. However, it is a most worthy Catholic organisation and exceptionally generous to many many causes and every Catholic man should join it.
The K of C is the largest Catholic lay organization in the world. 1.6 million members. They donate over $128 million to charitable programs annually. The strong right arm of local parishes. Founded in the USA in 1882. I am a proud member!