Randy Engel
A documentary: Opus Dei and the Knights of Columbus – The anatomy of a takeover bid, Part VII
Supreme Knight becomes one of the most influential Catholics in the world
By Randy Engel
June 6, 2024


As noted early, much of this series is about relationships – the relationship between organizations, that is, between Opus Dei and the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Church, specifically the Pontificate of Pope John Paul II, and between persons, that is the relationships between key players in the Opus takeover of the Knights, that is, between Supreme Knight Virgil Dechant, and Opus supernumerary Russell Shaw, and the Opus secret inscripti[1] Carl Anderson, who, for the record denies any relationship with the Prelature.[2] This denial is in keeping with Opus Dei as a secret society even though secret societies have been condemned by the Catholic Church for almost four hundred years.[3]

Opus Dei as a Secret Society

That the reader should appreciate the role of secret membership in Opus Dei, we present the following Articles from Opus Dei’s 1950 Constitutions documents written under Escriva’s early administration on the key role secrecy plays in hiding membership identification:[4]

  • 189 In order for the Institute to reach its proper end more effectively, it wishes to live as hidden, therefore it abstains from collective acts and does not have a name or common denomination by which its members are called. Given the character of the Institute, which externally does not desire to appear publicly as a society, it is not appropriate that its members should engage collectively in certain manifestations of cult like processions.

  • 190 By virtue of this collective humility, which is proper of our Institute, whatever is done by the members is not attributable to itself; but rather, whatever good is attained by them is attributable to God alone. Consequently, even membership in the Institute admits no external manifestations. The number of members is kept hidden from outsiders; and indeed our people do not discuss these things with outsiders.

  • 191 This collective humility leads our people to live the life which they consecrate to God with the same discretion which is most suited to the desired fruitfulness of the apostolate. The lack of this discretion can constitute a grave obstacle to exercising apostolic work or create some difficulty in the environment of one’s natural family or in the exercise of their office or profession. Thus the Numerary and Supernumerary members should know they are to live a prudent silence regarding the names of other members; and that they are never to reveal to anyone that they themselves belong to Opus Dei, not even to spread the Institute, without express permission from their local director. This discretion especially binds those who are newly accepted in the Institute and also to those who, for whatever reason, have left the Institute. The Institute and some of its members, however, need to be known, because all our apostolic works develop and are carried out within the bounds of civil law and likewise, with the same strength of soul, each one of us, altogether shuns secrecy and clandestine activity, for the only thing which moves us to maintain this discretion is humility and a deeper and more fruitful apostolic efficacy.

  • 193 These Constitutions, published instructions and those which in the future may be published, and the other things pertaining to the government of the Institute are never to be made public. Indeed, without the permission of the Father, those documents which are written in the Latin language may not be translated into vernacular languages.

  • 194 In those points in which the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, or Opus Dei falls under the civil law of their own region, they should faithfully submit to it. Other points which regard the internal government of the Institute, the organization, customs, spirit, ceremonies, and methods of apostolate, are permitted to be known only to the Church legitimate authority.

  • 195 Each and every one of the members are obliged with all their strength to facilitate and lend their cooperation to the perfection and development of the apostolic ministries of the other members. Hence the obligation incumbent upon all to advise the internal Superiors of the Institute of all things, whether in the method or mode of action of members, which might bring any diminution to some activity or efficacy of the Institute. Similarly, members, remembering the norms of charity and prudence, are also bound to exercise fraternal correction, so that, in the event, they may separate the members from customs which are repugnant to the spirit of the Institute.

Anderson Advances Up The Knights Corporate Ladder

By his own admission, Carl Anderson didn’t join the Knights of Columbus Washington D.C. State Council until he was in his 30s, that is, while he was still employed at the White House, but before he was joined Russell Shaw at the Knights Office of Public Policy in Washington in 1987.[5] This makes obvious sense since you cannot take over an organization you don’t belong to.

It should be noted that the Washington D.C. Knights Council, historically speaking, was one of the most important of the Knights operations and a key stepping-stone to the upward bound Anderson.[6]

Anderson held that position until he advanced to become the Supreme Secretary of the Knights at the National office in New Haven, Conn., and heir apparent to Supreme Knight Virgil Dechant, who retired on September 30, 2000 (but stayed on the Knights bankroll). Anderson assumed his new office as Supreme Knight in October 2000.

Grooming for such an extraordinarily high and lucrative position takes many years – in Anderson’s case ten years to be exact – and uncanny good fortune. Lucky for Anderson, his ascent up the Knights of Columbus corporate order was achieved without a hitch thanks to the direction and support of his primary benefactor in the take-over bid of the Knights – Opus Dei.

For all practical purposes, most, if not all of Anderson’s lobbying activities for the Knights during the period of 1987-1997, have been scrubbed from the internet, or never were inserted into his biographical data in the first place.

All we do know for certain is that Anderson advanced systematically from Knight to Grand Knight, to District Deputy, to State Advocate, to State Secretary to State Deputy in D.C., before obtaining the National office/New Haven position of Assistant Supreme Secretary, Supreme Secretary, and finally, the Supreme Knight, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman of the Board, of the Knights of Columbus.

Also, we know, that simultaneously during this decade-long period, Anderson held the position of Visiting Professor of the Opus-funded and controlled Pope John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family based at the Lateran University in Rome headed by the future Cardinal Carlo Caffarra of Bologna, Italy, an avid Opus sponsor. In 1988, Anderson became the founding Vice President of the John Paul II Institute Graduate School of Theology housed at the Catholic University of America.

Carl Anderson’s formal installation as Supreme Knight took place in Mexico City where Anderson publicly dedicated the Knights and his administration to the Blessed Mother under her title, Our Lady of Guadalupe. Thus, he began his rise from legislative aide and presidential assistant to become one of the most important and influential Catholic figures in the world.[7]

Office Draws National and Vatican Honors

During his 21-year-old tenure as Supreme Knight, Carl Anderson by way of his office, received countless national and international honors and awards. A short sampling is provided below:

  • Mr. Anderson was made Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Sylvester, a Knight of the Order of St. Gregory, the Great and a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (with his wife Dorian).

  • He was the only Catholic layman from North America to serve as an auditor at the World Synod of Bishops in 2001, 2005 and 2008. In addition, he participated as an auditor in the 2012 Synod of Bishops.

  • He held membership in the Pontifical Council for the Laity 2002, the Pontifical Council for the Family (with his wife Dorian) and the Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice, 2003), Pontifical Council for Social Communication (2007) and the Pontifical Council for the Family (2008).[8]

  • He serves as a member of the International Scientific Council of the Studium Generale Marcianum of Venice.

  • He became a Consultor to the Pro-Life Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in 2002.

  • He serves on the Board of Trustees of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center/Museum.

  • Anderson serves on the Board of Trustees of The Catholic University of America and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

  • He has received honorary doctorates from The Catholic University of America, The Pontifical Theology Academy of Krakow and St. Vincent's Seminary, Latrobe, Penna.

  • Mr. Anderson is the recipient of many honors including the Imago Dei Award, Archdiocese of Denver (2005); the Canterbury Medal, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty (2007); Servant of Peace Award, Path to Peace Foundation (2007); Rector's Award, Pontifical North American College, Rome (2008); The John Carroll Society Award (2009); the Lupa Capitolina Award, City of Rome (2009); the John Cardinal O'Connor Award (2009); and the Evangelium Vitae Medal (2015).

  • On October 29, 2014, Anderson and his wife, Dorian received the Opus Dei St. John Paul II New Evangelization Award at the Catholic Information Center in Washington, D.C.

Anderson Joins the Vatican Bank

With the mandated retirement of Supreme Knight Virgil Dechant, who had served as the Vice-President of the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR), aka the Vatican Bank, as a perk of his office, Carl Anderson was appointed a member and secretary of the IOR Board of Supervisors in 2009 – a major goal of the Opus Dei take-over of the Knights. The main function of the IOR is to manage bank accounts for all Vatican dicasteries, religious orders and Catholic associations including Opus Dei, which also has multiple Swiss bank accounts and offshore financial entities. Currently, the IOR has exclusive control of all the Holy See’s movable and liquid assets.

Although the IOR and its clerical and lay leadership have been drowning in money laundering law suits, indictments and convictions for decades – money laundering defined as “when funds from criminal acts, political backroom deals, tax evasion and other reasons why people want their money hidden are deposited in a financial institution and, after taking a cut off the top as a fee, the company releases the “washed” money into an account with a seemingly legitimate purpose”[9] – it (IOR) is an amateur when compared to Opus Dei and its international banking and laundering empire as documented in Robert Hutchison’s classic Their Kingdom Come, one of the few critical book on the Prelature which deals almost exclusively with Opus as a corporate business entity.[10]

Anderson As “A Best-Selling Author”

In addition to all of the above activities and obligations that come with the office of Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, publicists for Anderson also portray the corporate giant as a “best-selling New York Times author.” Among the 20 or so books credited to him as author while he was serving as Supreme Knight are:

As a side note, frankly, I find that it beggars belief that Anderson, the chief executive officer of a multi-billion dollar international insurance firm and charity is the principle author of the aforementioned texts to which he claims primary credit, with the possible exception of the paperback Beyond a House Divided.

I mention this matter because in 2008 the Knights picked up the tab for a full page ad in the New York Times costing thousands of dollars that promoted A Civilization of Love as well as an American and European tour to promote the book. The book’s back cover features endorsements by the usual Opus Dei sycophants – John Allen Jr., George Weigel, Mary Ann Glendon and Robert E. George.

Really! I ask you – Is this a genuine expense that the run-of-the-mill Knight should have been burdened with? I think not, especially when Anderson was collecting $1,000,000 plus salary[13] as Supreme Knight, and continues to siphon off, hundreds of thousands of dollar more as a Director/Past Supreme Knight. According to the Knights 990 IRS returns, Anderson took in $2.3 million in 2014, and almost $2 million in reportable compensation in 2021, that is, $1,902,112.00 plus, while the current Supreme Knight, Patrick E. Kelly took in only $1,159,239.00.

Anderson & Son Faces Charges of Nepotism

In 2017, the Knights of Columbus under Supreme Knight Anderson, faced a Denver IT Company lawsuit charging the Knights, specifically Knight Thomas P. Smith, Chief Insurance Officer, (who immediately “retired”), and fellow senior executive Matthew St. John, with insurance fraud and racketeering, and the inflation of membership “phantom” numbers. The lawsuit charged that the Knights did not want to streamline their membership record-keeping system as the results would demonstrate Knights membership has been in decline not rising.[14]

The case, which received some publicity in secular financial papers, but little if any in the Catholic media, was eventually settled in court in favor of the Denver firm of UKnight Interactive for a negligible amount of $500,000 on September 19, 2019.[15] It is unclear if the national office ever submitted its membership records, which the courts had ordered, at any stage in the case.

One year later, the Anderson Administration faced a different kind of lawsuit involving “self-dealing” of the Andersons, which received no publicity in the Catholic press and little in the secular media.

As reported by the Daily Caller, a Washington, D.C.- based news and opinion service on August 28, 2019, the Knights of Columbus entered into a contract with a lobbying firm that ensured Supreme Knight’s son, Carl Anderson, Jr. became the organization’s chief lobbyist, and that the contract gave more money for less work than under previous deals made by the Knights with other Washington D.C. lobbyist groups including QGA Public Affairs.

According to columnist Amber Athey, the Knights entered into a lobbying contract with QGA Public Affairs in 2015 and paid $80,000 for a full year’s worth of lobbying on appropriations bills and religious freedom issues.

In 2017, the Knights entered into a similar contract with Van Scoyoc Associates, a government affairs firm that employed Anderson’s son, and paid the firm $100,000 for six months of lobbying by Carl, Jr. on judicial nominations, religion, tax-exemption, health care, U.S. Agency for Development programs, and Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Syrian War Crimes. However, the official job record for young Carl shows that he did no lobbying for three of the six months for which he received payment.[16]

Dr. Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist with Public Citizen was asked to comment on the QGA lawsuit by the Daily Caller. Holman first made it clear that the Knights of Columbus lobbying arrangements did not violate public laws as the Knights are a private religious institution not a government agency. However, he stated that the very large imbalance of payments between the two reputable lobbying firms “raises ethical issues of self-dealing and nepotism.,” thus it is an issue the Knights need to be concerned about. Holman concluded that “paying one firm more than double the other for services rendered strongly suggests that the [Anderson] family connection was the deciding factor.”[17]

Anderson as the Quintessential Opus Dei Spokesman

Whatever former Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, inspired by his Opus Dei, has been “selling” the grassroots members of the Knights of Columbus for the last twenty or some years, it is certainly not traditional Catholicism based on the Social Kingship of Christ and Sovereign Rights of Christ the King in society.

Rather, Anderson’s public record clearly demonstrates that as the Knights’ chief officer, he has consistently promoted the errors of Opus Dei [as mirrored in the Second Vatican Council], specifically “Liberalism” and its progeny of secularism, religious liberty (liberty of conscience), modernism, ecumenicalism, pluralism, and intellectual anarchy.

I use the word “Liberalism,” as defined by Spanish priest Dr. Don Félix Sardà y Salvany in his 1886 classic Liberalism is a Sin[18] – as a cancer in the body of Christ.

Calling liberalism “ a monster of our times,” Salvany declares:

    Liberalism is a world complete in itself; it has its maxims, its fashions, its art, its literature, its diplomacy, its laws, its conspiracies, its ambuscades. It is the world of Lucifer, disguised in our times under the name of Liberalism, in radical opposition and in perpetual warfare against that society composed of the Children of God, the Church of Jesus Christ(19)

    Liberalism, whether in the doctrinal or practical order, is a sin. In the doctrinal order, it is heresy, and consequently a mortal sin against faith. In the practical order it is a sin against the commandments of God and of the Church, for it virtually transgresses all commandments. To be more precise: in the doctrinal order Liberalism strikes at the very foundations of faith; it is heresy radical and universal, because (22) within it are comprehended all heresies. In the practical order it is a radical and universal infraction of the divine law since it sanctions and authorizes all infractions of that law.

    We may then say of Liberalism: in the order of ideas it is absolute error; in the order of facts it is absolute disorder. It is therefore, in both cases a very grievous and deadly sin, for sin is rebellion against God in thought or indeed, the enthronement of the creature in the place of the Creator.26

    Heresy has never been so insidious as under its present form of Liberalism. Its range is so wide that it touches upon every note in the scale, and finds an easy disguise in its protean facilities. But its most fatal shaft is in its plea for "liberty of mind." This in its own eyes is its cardinal virtue. "Intellectual freedom from dogmatism" is its boast, a boast in reality the mask of ignorance and pride. To meet such an enemy requires no ordinary courage guarded by a sleepless vigilance. When encountered it is obligatory upon the Catholic conscience to resist it with all the powers of the soul. Heresy and all its works are sins; Liberalism is the root of heresy, the tree of evil in whose branches (31) all the harpies of infidelity find ample shelter; it is today the evil of all evils.

Father S Salvany describes perfectly the entity of Opus Dei and one of its most illustrious patrons, Carl Anderson who continues as a Supreme Officer on the Knights of Columbus as Past Supreme Knight with a six-figure compensation of $269,000.

(To be continued)


[1] Jean Jacques Thierry, Opus Dei – A Close-up, Cortland Press, Ny, p, 54. The inscripti are numeraries who have been selected for positions of great importance. Some are electors chosen by the President General, they in turn are responsible for choosing his successor by cooptation. The real power in Opus Dei is held by its secret inscribed ruling class which numbers about 200 and consists of numeraries, Opus priests, and select supernumeraries. They form an intellectual or corporeal elite answerable only to the Prelate/President General. All electors in Opus governance are inscribed members, ages 30 or older, with at least nine years as incorporated members, and a record of outstanding devotion and loyalty to The Work. Opus Dei is also a “kingmaker,” in that it can encourage and finance relatively obscure people to take up positions of great power, aka, former Presidential Assistant Carl Anderson who rose to become one of the most influential Catholics in the world as Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus.

[2] Membership in Opus Dei is kept secret by internal fiat, especially the names of directors of banks, insurance companies, international corporations, and men who work in civil service or political life which would include men like Carl Anderson.

[3] See CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Secret Societies (newadvent.org). Also, for the record, up until 1983 with the promulgation and approval of the Church’s new Code of Canon Law, the 1917 Code of Canon Law explicitly declared that joining Freemasonry [and any other secret society] entailed automatic excommunication. Opus papal functionary Pope John Paul II, however, approved of the removed of this punishment from the new Code replacing it with an ambiguous “just penalty,” or interdict.

[4] See ODAN – ODAN Opus Dei Awareness Network. Download the English translation of the 1950 Statutes of Opus Dei (RTF file – 643 KB).

[5] See NC Register interview above. Also Robert Mickens, “Meet one of the most influential Catholics in the World,” The Tablet, June 16, 2012.According to Mickens, Anderson joined the Knights in the 1980s.

[6] The Knights of Columbus have been in the District of Columbia since 1897, when Washington Council #224 was instituted, just a couple of months after Baltimore Council #205 first established the Order below the Mason-Dixon line. Both were at the time in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, then headed by James Cardinal Gibbons, a supporter of the Knights. By 1899 DC was a state jurisdiction, with five councils in the city.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Anderson was appointed to the Pontifical Academy of Life By Pope John Paul II in 1998. Pope Francis reappointed him to the Academy in 2017.

[9] See The Vatican Bank and Money Laundering (dailykos.com).

[10] Robert Hutchison, Their Kingdom Come, pp. 320, 344, 350. According to Hutchison, Opus Dei was involved in the Carlo Calvi-Banco Ambrosiano Banking Scandal. As he notes, the Calvi case “in its ensemble” was a good example of “the intermingling of power, priests, and organized crime.”

[11] Father Jose Granados is an employee of the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family.

[12] Msgr. Livio Melina is also connected with the John Paul Institute.

[13] SK Anderson took in a salary of $1.2 million in 2008 and $1.5 million in FY 2011.

[14] Expert: Knights of Columbus inflates membership numbers | AP News.

[15] For details of the UKnight Interactive Case see Part I Endnote 12. See also, Business Misconduct by the Knights of Columbus Raised In Letter To Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus (prnewswire.com); Insurance Fraud/Racketeering: Knights of Columbus Style – Really Right.

[16] See EXCLUSIVE: Knights Of Columbus Faces Accusations Of Self-Dealing Amid Insurance Fraud Lawsuit | The Daily Caller. Also Lobbying for Knights of Columbus by Van Scoyoc Associates | Represent | ProPublica.

[17] EXCLUSIVE: Knights Of Columbus Faces Accusations Of Self-Dealing Amid Insurance Fraud Lawsuit | The Daily Caller. For other Knights of Columbus lawsuit cases see $2.6 Million Wrongful Termination Case Settles with Knights of Columbus After Finding of “Bad Faith” Actions by Legal Team – The McCabe Law Firm (mccabe-lawfirm.com); Class Action Lawsuit against the Knights of Columbus case no 96C4789 What was the Class Action lawsuit settlement against the Knights of Columbus .? – Answers;

[18] Félix Sardà y Salvany, Liberalism Is A Sin, Spain, 1886. A beautifully translated edition of this timeless work by Conde B. Pallen, Ph.D., LL.D. is available online at ~Liberalism is a Sin~.

© Randy Engel


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Randy Engel

Randy Engel, one of the nation's top investigative reporters, began her journalistic career shortly after her graduation from the University of New York at Cortland, in 1961. A specialist in Vietnamese history and folklore, in 1963, she became the editor of The Vietnam Journal, the official publication of the Vietnam Refugee and Information Services, a national relief program in South Vietnam for war refugees and orphans based in Dayton, Ohio... (more)


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More by this author

June 17, 2024
A Documentary: Opus Dei and the Knights of Columbus – The anatomy of a takeover bid, Part IX

June 10, 2024
A documentary: Opus Dei and the Knights of Columbus – The anatomy of a takeover bid, Part VIII

June 6, 2024
A documentary: Opus Dei and the Knights of Columbus – The anatomy of a takeover bid, Part VII

May 24, 2024
A documentary: Opus Dei and the Knights of Columbus – The anatomy of a takeover bid, Part VI

May 21, 2024
A Documentary: Opus Dei and the Knights of Columbus – The anatomy of a takeover bid, Part V

May 14, 2024
A Documentary: Opus Dei and the Knights of Columbus – The anatomy of a takeover bid, Part IV

May 10, 2024
A Documentary: Opus Dei and the Knights of Columbus – The anatomy of a takeover bid, Part III

May 6, 2024
A documentary: Opus Dei and the Knights of Columbus: The anatomy of a takeover bid, Part II

May 3, 2024
A documentary: Opus Dei and the Knights of Columbus: The anatomy of a takeover bid, Part I

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