The Knights of Labor, a workers' organization led in the United States by Catholic Terence Powderly, had been condemned in Canada as a "secret society" by the Catholic Church. Most American bishops, perceiving that the Knights were not anti-Catholic and were primarily a labor union, were sympathetic to the organization. Card. James Gibbons delivered a written statement to the Vatican in favor of the union, and the Knights were spared condemnation by the pope. The incident is considered to be an important factor in the generally good relations between organized labor and the Catholic Church that have characterized American Catholic history.