Randy Engel
A documentary: Opus Dei and the Knights of Columbus – The anatomy of a takeover bid, Part VIII
How Knights’ money gets into Opus coffers
By Randy Engel
June 10, 2024

Knights Funding of Opus Dei “Apostolates”

Any study of how the Knights of Columbus billion dollar insurance business has or has not, in some way, contributed to Opus Dei’s international financial coffers is outside the purview of this report. However, an investigation of how millions of Knights charity dollars under the Anderson administration have gone to support a wide assortment of Opus “apostolates,” is not, thanks to the Knights required annual filing of 990 forms which are a matter of public record.

In keeping with Opus’ long-standing policy of the virtue of “non-giving,” once a wealthy outside organization like the Knights of Columbus comes under its control, the siphoning off of its monies in support of Opus “apostolates” – be they non-profits or media or corporate/business entities 2019 – comes into play. What follows is a sampling of some of the more egregious incidents of Opus’ sacking of the Knights’ treasury that occurred under the Anderson administration, and continues under the present Peter Kelly Administration.

*The Catholic Information Center

Opus Dei’s Catholic Information Center (CIC) in Washington, D.C. is a 501 (c)(3) multi-million dollar Opus corporation attached to the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. The Director of the CIC is always a priest of Opus Dei nominated by the Prelature and appointed by the Archdiocese of Washington.

In 1993, Cardinal James A. Hickey, who was a great devotee of Josemaría Escrivá,[1] gave the CIC over to the Prelature. Opus Dei has been operating the agency ever since that time, but from a new location just two blocks from the White house on K Street. The logo for the Center publicizes the CIC as “the nearest Tabernacle to the White House” but makes no reference to Opus. The retired Cardinal Hickey ordained the first public chapel in the United States honoring Opus Dei’s founder Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer at the CIC in 2001.

The stated mission of the CIC is to bring the sacraments and spiritual resources to those working in the Nation’s capital, more specifically, to a wealthy professional cliental working in the international, political, educational, banking, and business fields. The Center offers weekday Mass and Eucharist Adoration, confessions, and spiritual direction, along with a host of theological, philosophical, and public policy lectures, podcasts, book signings, and entertainments, many centered upon Pope John Paul II and his “New Evangelization.”

The CIC has not been without controversy over the years. For example in February 2010, the CIC opened its doors to a book-signing event featuring the notorious antilife, pro-sodomy Catholic journalist, “Cokie” Roberts. Adverse publicity resulted in the disinvitation of Mrs. Robert, which drew anger from some Opus Dei members who resented the cancelation.[2]

Because of its strategic importance in terms of recruitment and contact with top White House officials and offices, Congressional and Senatorial members, and Supreme Court justices, the CIC has always been directed by high level Opus Dei priests.

Past CIC Directors include Rev. Charles John McCloskey III[3] (1998-2004), Msgr.William H. Stetson[4] (2004-2007), Msgr. Arne Panula[5] (2007-2017), and Rev. Charles Trullols[6] (2017-present).

The John Paul II “New Evangelization Award Dinner” is an annual highlight of the Catholic Information Center. Among the CIC ingrown past gala Awardees are Leonard Leo of the Federalist Society (2022); March for Life head Jeanne Mancini (2021), Carl and Dorian Anderson (2014) and CIC Director Rev. Arne Panula (2017). (Note: In 2021, Jeanne Mancini awarded Carl Anderson the March for Life Pro-Life Legacy Award).

Sponsorship levels for the CIC gala include the (1) $25,000 New Evangelization Circle (2) $10,000 Patron; (3) $5000 Guardian; (4) $1000 Friends.[7] One can wonder how many, if any, rank and file members of the Knights of Columbus can afford to attend the event that they underwrite with their charity dollar.

The Knights of Columbus under Supreme Knight Carl Anderson has poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into Opus Dei/CIC coffers over the last 20 or more years. In its 2022 donation to the CIC, the Knights gave the Opus Dei a whopping $205,000 so the Knights’ annual contribution appears to be growing at a rapid rate with no limit in size.

*The National Catholic Bioethics Center

During the Knights’ Anderson Administration, Opus Dei’s National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC) continued to receive millions of dollars from the Knights, usually at a quarter of a million dollars a pop per year, to ostensibly promote medical-moral ethics and the dignity of the human person. Unfortunately, the NCBC’s response to certain medical and moral issues has not always been Catholic.

The NCBC, originally known as the Pope John XXIII Medical-Moral Research and Education Center of St. Louis, Missouri, was created in 1972 and headed by Dominican theologian and scientist Father Albert Moraczewski, O.P. Its primary purpose was to evaluate medical-moral trends in society and conduct related workshops for the American and Canadian bishops and Catholic health professionals. The main funding source for the Pope John XXIII Center was the Knights of Columbus under the Dechant Administration. Sadly, but as with most Knights-funded activities over the decades, the monitoring of these workshops was lax or non-existent.[8]

In 1996, Opus Dei took over the renamed Pope John XXIII Center (now the National Catholic Bioethics Center) when former Episcopal priest, convert, and Opus supernumerary John M. Haas, Ph.D.[9] became its fifth president. Eventually, the NCBC was relocated to the Philadelphia area near Haas’ home turf of Broomall, Penna.

This writer’s first run-in with Haas and the NCBC took place in late March of 2010, when the U.S. Coalition for Life (USCL) learned that the anti-life, eugenic-based Jackson Laboratory of Bar Harbor, Maine, had been given land to build a new medical and genetic research facility by Barron Collier Companies, the partner of Catholic philanthropist Tom Monaghan, creator of Ave Maria Town, home of Ave Marie University (AMU). The planned $710 million Jackson Lab project called the Institute of Personalized Medicine, was to be located just three miles from the Ave Maria campus.[10]

The major issue was “Whether or not Monaghan & Co. and the residents of the ‘City of God’ were willing to have a little Auschwitz in their backyard.?” The answer turned out to be, “yes.”

The lines of conflict in the Jackson Lab anti-life fiasco, a non-stop battle which raged on for thirteen months, were quickly drawn with my prolife colleague Marielena Stuart, an Ave Maria resident; AveWatch, a prolife monitoring blog; and the USCL on one side; and Tom Monaghan; Blake Gable of Barron Collier and project manager for Ave Maria Development; Ave Maria University President and Monaghan’s legal mouthpiece Nicholas Healy, Jr.; Dr. Michael Waldstein, an Opus-connected Professor of Philosophy at AMU (he described the Jackson Lab project as a “gift from God”; Opus supernumerary and writer Phil Lawler who argued that the Jackson Labs were not in the human embryo business[11]; Michael Hyde, a Vice President of the Jackson Lab; and the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC), on the other side.

To his credit, in the early stage of the project’s consideration, Monaghan, as part of his “due diligence,” had hired the NCBC in Philadelphia, to investigate the Jackson Lab and advise him on the merits or distractions of his selling his 50% interest in this land to his partner,” for the new Jackson Lab site.

The NCBC eventually produced two papers dealing with the Monaghan and Barron Collier Company land transaction for the Jackson Lab. The NCBC reports stated that there would be “no moral obstacle” to the sale. No mention was made of the eugenic history of the Jackson Lab founder, Clarence C. Little[12], or the Jackson Lab’s long-standing promotion and/or funding of eugenic abortion, human embryo research, or research on male contraceptives – charges fully documented by the USCL.

As it happens, Opus member, had already established a relationship with Monaghan via Legatus, the latter’s exclusive club for wealthy Catholic CEOs with business assets over $5 million. On February 5, 2009, six months before the Jackson Lab pow-wow was initiated, Legatus hosted Haas in Bermuda at their annual 3-day members-only summit where the NCBC President received the Cardinal O’Connor Pro-Life Award from Monaghan.

Up until the USCL’s relentless three-month media campaign against the antilife Jackson Lab that took place between March and May 2010, the latter had enjoyed unprecedented and uncritical press coverage and excellent public relations. But once the USCL released the anti-life reports on the Jackson Lab, and the citizens of Collier County became aware that their tax dollars would be used lure and subsidize the Jackson Lab enterprise, the tide slowly began to turn.

On January 17, 2011, the exasperated officials of the Jackson Lab withdrew their application to Enterprise Florida for state funding due to “political challenges and interventions,” and a hostile tax-payers’ environment. Barron Collier also withdrew its free land offer.

The Jackson Lab project was dead – no thanks to the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

Following the Jackson Lab debacle, the USCL continued to clash with the NCBC over another life and death issue involving the organization’s support of “brain death,” as a valid criteria for vital human organ donation and transplantation. The problem is basically two-fold (1) you cannot get a viable vital organ from a corpse and (2) “brain death” is not true death.

As documented by the prominent Catholic physician Dr. Paul Byrne, a neonatologist and Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, past President of the Catholic Medical Association and co-founder of the Life Guardian Foundation:[13]

    The statements of Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Pius XII, Pope John Paul II, the Council of Vienne, the Council of the Fifth Lateran, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, make it clear that excision of individual vital organs, i.e., organs that are single in the body, e.g., the heart and whole liver cannot be initiated when the soul-body unity is present. At the very least, if the separation of life from the body cannot be verified, or if there is doubt about the separation of life from the body, organ excision is morally prohibited and should not be allowed.

    A corpse, a cadaver is a dead body that is the remains of someone who was on earth. “By death [L., post mortem] the soul is separated from the body” (CCC 1016). Separation of the soul from the body changes a living body to a dead body, a cadaver, a corpse.

    It would seem that people ought to compare the corpse viewed at a funeral home to a patient in an intensive care unit who has a declaration of “brain death imposed upon him when his heart is beating[14] and he responds when cut open to take his organs. And prior to this his ventilator needed for life support is cruelly taken away. Never is this beneficial to the comatose defenseless patient. After the beating heart is cut out, isn’t he then a corpse? And before that wasn’t he a sick patient receiving treatment in an intensive care unit?[15]

Dr. Byrne makes clear that the true Catholic position on single vital organ donation is: “No one shall be declared dead unless respiratory, circulatory, and nervous systems have been destroyed. Such destruction shall be in accord with universally accepted medical standards.”

As spokesperson for the NCCB, and an advisor to the American bishops on medical ethics, John M. Haas, Ph.D. has clashed many times over the years with Dr. Byrne on the question of the moral legitimacy of vital organ transplantation.

The position of Haas, who holds a doctorate in moral theology, but no medical degrees, and the NCBC, was clearly stated in the Summer 2011 issue of the National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly in a lengthy article titled “Catholic Teaching Regarding the Legitimacy of Neurological Criteria for the Determination of Death.”[16]

My first impression of the lengthy article was that while Haas was critical of Dr. Byrne, especially the latter’s contention that excising the heart or other single vital organs of a not-yet-dead human being is tantamount to homicide, he wasn’t critical of the cash cow organ transplantation industry where a fresh heart sells for $290,000 to $1.4 million, putting the not-so-dead patient/donor at a critical disadvantage in the battle to save his own life.

On subsequent readings over the years, the (mistaken and dangerous) bottom line of the NCBC and its officers has not changed – VITAL SINGLE HUMAN ORGAN DONATION IS A MERITORIOUS ACT – but has to change.

That the Opus Dei “apostolate” of the National Catholic Bioethics Center has continued to exist at all has been due mainly to the Knights of Columbus annual grants. IRS records show that the Knights gave the NCBC $489,000 in 2006, $250,000 in 2014 and $300,617 in 2015, $100,000 in 2018, $183,355 in 2020 and $250,000 in 2021.

As with the Catholic Information Center, isn’t it about time for rank-and- file Knights to cut the financial cord to the not-so-Catholic NCBC?

* Knights Expand OD Media Empire

One of the major changes that took place after Opus Dei Supreme Knight Carl Anderson took over the Administration of the Knights in 2000 was the purchase of various Catholic newspaper and media outlets, which in turn come under the ultimate control of the Opus Dei without financially burdening the Prelature. Some media acquisitions like the Knights’ purchase of Crux from The Boston Globe in 2016 have made news headlines. Others like EWTN,[17] and Catholic News Agency are listed by name in the Knights’ 990 tax reports, while still other forms of media financial support are hidden in official accounts under generic entries like “communication activities,” as in the case of Robert Moynihan’s Inside the Vatican., or in the ledgers of the Knights of Columbus Charities, Inc., or media entities outside the United States.

By far, the Knights’ 2016 unthinkable bailout and “corporate resurrection”[18] of Crux from the historically anti-Catholic, anti-life Boston Globe received the most publicity and criticism of all the Knights’ media escapades.[19]

On March 11, 2016, The Globe announced it was dropping its Catholic news site CruxNow.com operated by American journalist in Rome, John L. Allen, Jr. with Crux Vatican correspondent, Ines San Martin, an Opus numerary.[20] Four days later, on March 15, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson stated that it was entering a “partnership” with Crux editor John Allen to preserve the “independent” Catholic news service.

Shortly after coming to Rome in 2000, John Allen who was working for the liberal National Catholic Reporter at the time, realized that his success as a Vatican journalist depended on obtaining the benediction of Joaquin Navarro-Valls, Director of the Holy See Press Office – the second most important man at the Vatican after Pope John Paul II., and an Opus Dei supernumerary who lived at the Prelature’s headquarters in Rome. Allen was lucky enough to become a Navarro Valls favorite and an avid media waterboy for Opus Dei. Allen’s best known work is the Prelature’s whitewash, Opus Dei – An Objective Look Behind the Myths and Reality of the Most Controversial Force in the Catholic Church (2005).[21]

The Knights media romance with Crux ended in the fall of 2019, just three and a half years later and two million dollars of hard-earned donations wasted.[22] On October 23, 2019, my colleague George Neumayr issued an interesting tweet:

    More Francis-friendly blather from John Allen. Many have been fooled into thinking he is an “objective “ Vatican reporter. In truth, he is mainly a stenographer for the bad guys. He is openly heterodox – a divorcee who is shacked up with Crux’s Elise Harris [Rome senior correspondent for Crux].[23]

When the Knights dropped Crux, the latter’s major financial apparatus shifted to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles under former Opus Numerary and priest, Archbishop José H. Gomez with supplementary funding from the DeSales Media Group in the Diocese of Brooklyn under associate Opus priest, Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, and Angeles News, the official media organ of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.[24] Crux is home at last with the Opus Dei Prelature.

*Knights Capture the March for Life

The Knights of Columbus’ subsequent takeover and corruption of the Washington, D.C. March for Life Education and Defense Fund (MFL) began with the death of the March founder and president Nellie Gray on August 13, 2012. One of the organization’s staffers, Gene Ruane, arrived for a morning meeting and found Nellie Gray dead in her Washington Capitol Hill apartment.

Although Knights leadership claims their organization played a major role in the very early days of the MFL, this is simply media hype.[25] According to one of the founding members of the MFL all volunteer, non-salaried Board, there were only seven people gathered around Nellie’s dining room table and none claimed they were acting on behalf of the Knights of Columbus although some were grassroots members.[26] The only mention of the Knights was when the small group was considering “marshals” for the March. After the MFL was organized and functioning, it attracted thousands of grassroots Knights who supported the MFL and its “no compromise” philosophy of its founder. IRS records show that while Nellie Gray was alive, the Knights annual contribution to the MFL was in the $10,000 range. Thus, it was not until after Nellie’s death that the Knights, under Carl Anderson’s leadership, engineered a paradigm shift in the March’s philosophy, finances, policies, and programs.

The transfer of power and control started with the appointment of the new MFL Board feminist Jeanne Monahan (Mancini),[27] first as interim President and then President of the MFL in 2012 at an “emergency” meeting of the Board which cast a unanimous vote in her favor. At the time of Monahan’s appointment, Patrick E. Kelly was doing dual service as Chairman of the MFL and Vice President of Public Policy for the Knights of Columbus National Office.[28]

In a much later 2018 interview with Crux/Opus Dei reporter, Christopher White, Mancini admitted that she felt “conflicted and ambivalent” about joining the Board as she thought the organization was “old school in its thinking and operations,” and her views on abortion were more inclusive and “big tent.”[29] In an October 2018 panel discussion on abortion held at Georgetown University, sponsored in part by the Knights, Mancini said that religious anti-abortion language damaged the Prolife Movement and that she preferred a secular approach that promotes abortion as a “social justice” issue.”[30]

At the MFL Board meetings following Nellie Gray’s death, for the first time since the organization’s founding, the matter of salaries and staff came to the fore.

In 2011, the annual budget for the MFL was only $314,155. In 2012, the budget was $462,071.

One year later, 2013, under the Mancini/Kelly leadership the MFL budget exploded to an astounding $1,439,109 to support the March’s growing bloated bureaucracy that included salaries, and new office space and staff to operate the organization year round.[31] In 2014, the MFL budget dipped to $532,150, but exceeded the over one-million dollar level thereafter: 2015 – $1,083,266; 2016 – $1,083,929; 2017– $1,554,482; 2018 – $1,444,990; 2019 – 1,814,504; 2020 – $1,678,987. In 2021 the MFL budget surpassed $3 million with assets of $2,938,096, thanks to the $500,000 to $850,000 annual contribution of the Knights of Columbus.

A large portion of the MFL funding in the fall of 2016, went into the Board of Directors’ creation of a sister-lobbying organization called March for Life ACTION, a 501( c )(4) entity headed by Tom McCloskey, a colleague of Mancini from her Family Research Council days. As Vice-President of Government Affairs his starting salary was set at six figures, $102,000.

Unfortunately, the financial generosity of the Knights of Columbus came at a high price for the original March for Life including the loss of independence and control. Within one year of Nellie Gray’s death, the Knights had captured all four major offices of the MFL:

  • Chair – Deputy Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly

  • Vice Chair – Knight Thomas J. Harrington, Senior Policy Director

  • Secretary – Knight Timothy Saccoccia, Metro Area Senior Policy Director

  • Treasurer – Knight Donald R. Kehoe, Assistant Supreme Secretary

With its newly acquired control, the Knights leadership were now ready to engineer a paradigm shift from the MFL’s foundational epitaph of “NO EXCEPTIONS NO COMPROMISE” to the deadly endorsement of “CONSENSUS,” on the life and death issue of abortion. President Mancini fully cooperated in the media endeavor.

The idea of “consensus” as a foundation for a new national legislative and political strategy for the Pro-Life Movement originated with the Media Compass Project carried out by the Knights’ Media Research and Development team in cooperation with the Marist Institute for Public Opinion of New York, and was incubated in the Knights’ New Haven office between 2008 and 2010. The consensus strategy was concretely defined and promoted for popular grassroots consumption by Supreme Knight Anderson in his 2010 book, Beyond A House Divided – The Moral Consensus Ignored by Washington, Wall Street, and the Media.[32]

According to Anderson, the Knight’s funded Marist poll shows that the American public is moving towards a “prolife position,” that is, a majority “favor restrictions that would limit abortion to the first three months of pregnancy at most.”[33] “We didn’t find a clash of absolutes, but a consensus on what almost everyone sees as the most hopelessly divided issue in America today,”[34] he said.

Obviously, to make “consensus” fit an acceptable definition of “prolife,” Anderson has to redefine what the term “prolife” means which he does, so that there can be no question that his position is as his defenders would claim, “taken out of context.”

For example, in an August 17, 2016 opinion article for the Washington, D.C. newspaper, The Hill, titled “Catholic politicians should follow conscience, consensus on abortion,” Anderson falsely claims, “The Catholic position – that abortion takes a human life, is morally wrong, and should be substantially restricted — is not only backed up by science, it is now the public’s consensus by a wide margin.”[35]

AkaCatholic editor, Louie Verriccio takes Anderson over the coals and back in his excellent podcast[36] on the Knights of Columbus/March for Life creation and promotion of “consensus,” so I won’t belabor the significance of the death-knoll strategy for the Prolife Movement for the reader other than to cite these brief points:

  • Prolifers who stand by the founding abolitionist position of the Prolife Movement, that is zero, zilch, nada, killing of innocent human beings in the womb or test tube, are now relegated to the “extremeist” category held by proaborts who favor abortion ‘til birth (and a little beyond).

  • Politicians who favor the popular “exceptions” for abortion including rape, incest, eugenics, and life of the mother are promoted to “prolife” status.

  • According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, 91% of all abortions are performed in the first trimester, and 9% in the second and third trimester. Early abortifacient chemical abortions are gradually replacing surgical abortion. Figures do not include abortifacient “contraceptives” and devices including the intrauterine device and the Pill.

On September 22, 2016, March for Life ACTION launched its version of a national “CONSENSUS” media campaign, funded by Knights’ “charity.” The ad/commercial played on prime cable and network television.[37]

So what’s the Knights of Columbus/March for Life endgame? For the last seven years, the March for Life and March for Life Action have been organizing State prolife marches across America with the objective of establishing an alternative to the National Right to Life in Washington, D.C. However, an extensive phone questionnaire conducted by the USCL of the State and diocesan prolife offices in the U.S. in 2017 indicated that that not a single spokesman was aware that the Knights of Columbus and the March for Life were promoting a “consensus” strategy on abortion, nor what the implications were for the adoption of such a strategy.

As this is a series on Opus Dei’s capture of the Knights of Columbus, and the Knights’ subsequent absorption of the largest and most recognizable prolife organization in the nation, the question arises as to the Prelature’s position on “consensus” as defined by its inscribed member, Carl Anderson.

Do they correspond?

Since Opus Dei falsely insists that it’s role embraces only spiritual matters, and not politics, to get an answer to the above question, one must review the action of its “apostolates,” and there is none better to select than the multi-million dollar “conservative/libertarian” Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy,[38] founded by Leonard Leo, a member of the Prelature’s Catholic Information Center (CDC) in Washington, D.C. Leo draws an annual salary of $500,000 plus a year as Director, and Co-chair of the Society. Opus priest, Fr. Charles Trullols, has served as a Director of the Federalist Society, and is the current Director of the Prelature’s CIC.

On October 7, 2016, following the MFL “consensus” campaign, the Federalist featured an article by MFL President Mancini titled “80 Percent of Americans Support Limiting Abortion to the First Trimester.”[39] Mancini concludes:

    Last month, March for Life ACTION released a commercial making the case to the American people that we should not be afraid to tackle this winning issue, to move on the offensive and embrace what have now become mainstream pro-life policies. We are indeed winning the hearts and minds of Americans. To anyone out there who has been afraid to speak the truth on these winning issues, I invite you to join the consensus[40].

For the record, under the Anderson administration, the Knights plowed hundreds of thousands of “charity” dollars into Leonard’s Federalist Society, at an annual rate of $50,000. Leo Leonard also sits on the Board of Directors of the think-tank agency called the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. that receives from $85,000 to $300,000 a year from the Knights.[41] Leo Leonard is also the President of the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast(with Patrick Kelly Director/Secretary). The Breakfast is held annually in Washington, D.C. for about $100,000 a year, with the majority of funding, some $75,000, supplied mainly by – you guessed it – the Knights of Columbus. I think the reader gets the idea.

*The Pope John Paul II Shrine Money Pit

Originally dubbed the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center and later renamed the Saint Pope John Paul II National Shrine, this bottomless million dollar money pit has been sucking the Knights’ coffers dry for decades.

The center's origins are linked to the special friendship that Bishop (later Cardinal) Adam Maida established with John Paul II in 1988 when Maida was bishop of the Green Bay Diocese in , Wisconsin. Maida tickled the pope’s ears with the idea of building an international showcase for the Wojtyla papacy. After Maida was installed as the Archbishop of Detroit, one of the poorest diocese in the nation, he received permission from the pope to raise funds for the papal edifice that Pope John Paul II wanted built in n Washinton, D.C.

The Pope John Paul II Cultural Center, modeled on the American idea of a presidential library came under the auspices of the now defunct John Paul II Foundation. Maida was appointed President of the Foundation and head of the Cultural Center project in the United States.

The JP II Cultural Center, a 130,000-square foot, 12-acre facility was built on Harewood Avenue on the edge of the Catholic University of America campus, just a short distance from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. It featured lectures on the life of Pope John Paul II as well as galleries to exhibit Vatican artifacts, a church and a chapel, with a large support staff and host of academics. The final cost of the ugly structure, including design, construction, and maintenance, ran well over $54 million U.S. dollars with Knights initially contributing $5 million. The Vatican contributed zero.

In 2001, the Cultural Center had its grand opening.

By its 5th year, the failing Cultural Center was $36 million in debt to Detroit Archdiocese because of loans that Maida had made or guaranteed to cover costs of operations of the center from the Allied Irish Bank. As a business model the center was unsustainable because it had few visitors. As a prayer center it could not compete with the Basilica just a short walk away.

In 2009 when Cardinal Maida retired, the new Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron ordered a 9-member commission to investigate the status of the sinking ship. Eventually the facility was shuttered and padlocked until Vigneron finally put the building and property up for sale in 2010. It took 18 months before the Archbishop was able to unload the money pit onto the Knights of Columbus.

On August 2, 2011, Supreme Knight Anderson announced at a business session of the Knight’s 129th annual convention in Denver, that the Supreme Board had voted to acquire the ill-fated structure and transform the Cultural Center into a shrine for Pope John Paul II. Anderson said the Knights would bail out the Archdiocese of Detroit for $22,700,000 in cash. He noted that the purchase was good for all concerned, and that the Knights would now have a permanent Washington Office of Public Policy and the facility would also house the Knights State Council office. Anderson appointed Patrick Kelly as the new Executive Director.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C. by decree turned the center into a shrine, and in 2014 the renamed Shrine of Saint John Paul II was given the- status of a national shrine by the United States Conference of Catholic bishops.

A quick look at the IRS 990 forms filed by the primary officer of the Pope John Paul II Shrine reveals that between 2013 and 2021 Knights’ Supreme Council allocated the following millions for the Shrine’s maintenance and staff: 2013-$9,816,162; 2014 -$13,101,873; 2015 – $14,500,000; 2018 – $10,763,801; 2020 – $10,274,273; 2021 – $8,395,000. The latest return showed that expenses exceeded revenue by ¬$307,120.

Who Benefits from Maida’s white elephant?

The reader will note that this segment on the Pope John Paul Shrine, unlike the other Opus Dei “apostolates” cited above, does not mention the Prelature at all, because, as far as I know, Opus, in keeping with its virtue of “non-giving,” has not contributed to the Shrine’s existence in any meaningful way. However, I have included this story on the shrine because it is Opus Dei, and not the Knights of Columbus or the Catholic Church, that has been the primary beneficiary of the Knights’ millions that continues to publicize the legacy of the Pope John Paul II to which the Prelature’s entire future is inextricably linked.

*The Pope John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family

Although Opus Dei is no friend of the natural family and parental rights, and not a particular supporter of marriage with the exception of married supernumeraries with large families who supply the bulk of the Prelature’s financial base, never-the-less it has a large number of popular apostolates devoted to marriage and the family including the well-known Pope John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family.

The Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family was founded in 1981 by Pope John Paul II in the Apostolic Constitution Magnum Matrimonii Sacramentum,[42] but its formation was delayed until October 1982, due to the attempted assassination of the pope.

The Institute was closely related to the ill-fated Pontifical Council for the Family that was created in the Roman Curia that same year under the Motu Proprio Familia a Deo Instituta for the purpose of fostering the pastoral care of families, and protecting the rights and dignity of families in the Church and civil society.[43]

The Institute was annexed to the Lateran University in Rome with later affiliates in the U.S. and around the world including Mexico, Spain, and Australia – all with the right to confer, de iure, doctorates and licentiates in the sciences on marriage and family. The first presiding president was Bishop, later Cardinal, Carlo Caffarra (1981-1995), a close associate of Opus Dei.

In 1987, Supreme Knight Virgil Dechant, joined by Cardinal James Hickey of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. asked the Congregation for Catholic Education for permission to establish n independent John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family initially at the Dominican House of Studies adjacent to the Catholic University of America, and later on the Catholic University of America, an entity heavily endowed by the Knights since its early years.

The corporation [EIN 52-1547103], which is the legal organizational body of the Institute was established in the District of Columbia under the name “John Paul II Shrine and Institute, Inc. The Institute is governed by a Board of Governors composed of the Supreme Officers of the Knights of Columbus.

Thus, on September 8, 1988, the rank and file members of the Knights of Columbus were burdened with another decades-long questionable financial enterprise dedicated to perpetuating John Paul II’s legacy on love and sex, aka, Theology of the Body, starting off with a $50,000 grant by Virgil Dechant. How many millions of dollars the Dechant, Anderson and Kelly Administrations have squandered on propping up the John Paul II’s legacy via the Institute as well as the Pope John Paul II Shrine is any one’s guess – my low-end estimate would be in the $160 million range[44] not including special projects like the 2006 outlay of $8 million used to turn CUA Keane Hall into the new McGivney Hall, as the permanent seat of the Institute. Thus far, the Knights’ John Paul II Institute on Marriage and Family has only graduated 600 students. Using the above low calculations that would put the cost of educating a single layman, priest, or deacon at the Institute for the period from 1990 to 2022 at about $26 million per graduate.

Fortunately for the Knights, Pope Francis put the Pope John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family out of its financial misery on September 2017, when he introduced the Motu Propio Summa Familiae Cura and renamed the original body the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for Matrimonial and Family Science.[45] In driving out the bad, with the more bad, Francis replaced John Paul II’s Theology of the Body with his own post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

Francis named Archbishop Vincenzo “How I love my homoerotic mural” Paglia,[46] the head of the Pontifical Academy for Life as the Grand Chancellor for the newly renovated Institute. So one can hope that the days of the Knights funding any more John Paul II academic love fests is over.

Knights Fund Only Opus Dei Cult

There are many other ways, of course, that the Knights’ Supreme Office or its members including the Supreme Knight, can secretly funnel funds to Opus Dei including giving a rebate on their salaries to the Prelature.

But I think from the IRS 990 information provided, it should be clear that during the twenty plus years of the Anderson Administration, Opus Dei and only Opus Dei has been the sole “Catholic” sect at the receiving end of the Knights’ financial generosity.

No other prominent “Catholic” sect/cult including Focolare, the Neocatechumenal Way, the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi Movement, Communication and Liberation, and the Community of Sant'Egidio, all of whom attended the canonization of Escriva (along with Supreme Knight Carl Anderson)[47] have been so blessed.

The question that grassroots Knights of Columbus must ask themselves is “ What benefits has the Knights organization accrued from funding The Work? If the answer turns out to be minus zero, then it’s time to turn off the financial spigot that continues to feed Opus Dei and its “apostolates,” and replace all Opus-dominated Supreme Knight Board of Directors with independent officers who will reclaim their leadership role that puts the Catholic faith and the welfare of their fellow grass roots knights first.

(To be continued)

[1] James Hickey, Washington Cardinal and Devotee of St. Josemaría, Dies – Opus Dei.

[2] Thomas A. Droleskey, “Not the Work of God,” Christ or Chaos, February 22, 2010 at http://www.christorchaos.com/NotTheWorkofGod.html.

[3] A graduate in Economics from Columbia University, Rev. McCloskey was originally recruited as an Opus Dei numerary, but later became a priest of the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross (1981). He attended Opus’ University of Navarre in Spain where he obtained his Doctorate in Sacred Theology. The Washington D.C. celebrity priest was credited with the conversion to Catholicism ( and Opus Dei) of many prominent Washingtonians including Newt Gingrich, Sam Brownback, Lawrence Kudlow, Robert Novak, and former abortionist Bernard Nathanson. The late Opus supernumerary Robert Hanssen, the infamous spy/traitor arrested in 2001 was known to have befriended McCloskey. His fall from grace was attributed to a female sex scandal which came to the Prelature’s attention in 2002, but was covered-up until the case made public headlines in 2019. Father McCloskey died on February 23, 2023.

[4] Msgr. William Stetson was an Opus numerary ordained to the Prelature in 1962. He was a graduate of Harvard Law School and earned his doctorate in Canon Law at the Angelicum in Rome. For 17 years, Stetson was the Vicar of Opus Dei in Chicago. In 2004, he replaced Father McCloskey at the CIC. He was appointed to his CIC post by homosexual predator Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, and served, very successfully until September 2007. He died on January 3, 2019.

[5] Rev. Arne Panula was recruited to Opus Dei while studying at Harvard, and ordained to the Prelature in 1973. He earned his theology degree from Opus’ University of Navarre in Spain, after which he returned to the United States and served at Opus’ Heights School in Washington, D.C. From 1998 to 2002 he was Vicar of the Prelature for the United States. In 2007 he replaced Msgr. Stetson as Director of the CIC. Panula created the Leonine Forum in Washington, D.C. as an Opus “apostolate,” to cultivate “Catholic professionals for lives of virtuous leadership.” It's annual budget hoovers around a half-million dollars a year. He died on July 19, 2017 following a long battle with cancer.

[6] Father Charles Trullols, a Spaniard, took over the CIC in March 2017. Educated as an architect, he studied at Opus’ Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome and worked for four years at Opus’ Rome headquarters. He was ordained a priest for the Prelature in 2006. In addition to his directorship of the CIC, Trullols serves as the Chaplain at Opus’ Oakcrest School for Girls and is the Spiritual Director of the Leonine Forum. He speaks four languages

[7] Additional funding for the CIC comes from the multi-million dollar Washington, D.C. Catholic Association Foundation (CAF) which shelled out $375,000 to the CIC in 2021. The CAF operation is directed by one office/president ($66,400) and a secretary/treasurer ($85,000) who, according to IRS 990 form work five hours a week each for the CAF.

[8] For example, at the February 1981 meeting of the NCBC in Dallas, Texas, homosexual Father Michael Peterson, the future founder of the notorious St. Luke Institute in Washington, D.C., a popular hide-out for clerical pederasts, delivered a lecture titled, “Psychological Aspects of Human Sexual Behavior.” An ardent devotee of Alfred Kinsey, sexologist Peterson instructed the bishops on how Catholic dogmas and morals on sex including the Church’s opposition to birth control and homosexuality, creates much human suffering. Peterson helped frame the sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults in terms “disease,” rather than a “prosecutable crime.” His anti-life commentaries were dutifully received by the attendees of the workshop and unopposed by the Knights. Father Michael Peterson died of AIDS on April 9, 1987.

[9] Opus Dei supernumerary Dr. John M. Haas retired from the NCBC in 2019. He has served as a consultant to the USCCB’s Committees on Prolife, and Health Care issues. He is a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, and a consultor for the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers. He is also President of the Opus apostolate called the International Institute for Culture located in Philadelphia.

[10] The complete series on the Jackson Lab Scandal is available at Jackson Lab project defeated in Florida – a major victory over the U.S. eugenic establishment (renewamerica.com); Jackson Lab project defeated in Florida, Part II (renewamerica.com); Jackson Lab project defeated in Florida, Part III (renewamerica.com);

[11] Apparently, Phil Lawler of Catholic Culture, as well as Tom Monaghan and Co. were oblivious to the fact that the Jackson Lab had a branch lab in West Sacramento, Calif. called JAX-West originally built to expedite the shipment of JAX Mice and Services to area biomedical and university medical centers. In November 2004, following the passage of Proposition 71, which authorized the creation the multi-billion dollar California Institute for Regeneration Medicine (CIRM), Jax-West was relocated and expanded to conduct experiments on developing new mice models of human diseases to be used in human stem cell treatments. On June 22, 2009,the Jackson Lab announced that Jax-West had received a #3.4 million grant from CIRM to conduct human stem cell research that would involve the use and destruction of human embryos [referred to as “fertilized embryos” in a Jackson Lab video] to produce immune-deficient mouse models of human diseases that can be used for testing human stem cell therapies. In a public statement made by Jackson Lab Michael Hyde on May 20, 2010, , the executive officer stated that nobody from Ave Maria or elsewhere had ever asked Jackson Laboratory to give its assurance that it would refrain from human embryonic stem cell research on its property. Nor, he insinuated, would Jackson officials and researchers likely agree to any infringement of their right to pursue whatever scientific course they desired to pursue.

[12] C.C. Little (1888-1971) was a member of the American Eugenics Society, a founding director of Margaret Sanger’s Birth Control League, and a trustee of the American Euthanasia Society which promoted voluntary and involuntary euthanasia of “defective children.” He founded the Roscoe B. Jackson Memorial Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine in 1929 (later renamed the Jackson Laboratory). By the time of Little’s death in 1971, the Jackson Lab had morphed into an international center for mammalian genetic research and a major promoter of “medical genetics,” eugenic abortion, human embryo and stem cell research and destruction, and the “Health by Death” ethic. In 2007, the Jackson Lab hired Dr. Robert Braun to develop new forms of male contraception.

[13] For a complete evaluation of the true Catholic position on vital, single organ transplantation see lifeguardianfoundation.org. See also “Brain Death” Test Causes Brain Necrosis and Kills Patients: Neurologist to Rome Conference – LifeSite (lifesitenews.com); Catholic_Teaching_on_Death_and_Organ_Transplantation_brochure.pdf (truthaboutorgandonation.com); Bioethics experts challenge the 'Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (2006)' (renewamerica.com).

[14] In addition to a beating heart, the “brain dead” patient has circulation, respiration, digestion of food, urine production, salt and water balance (in at least 50% of patients), internal control of temperature and many more biological activities.

[15] Series of articles sent by Dr. Paul Byrne to the author. Includes, “Haas is Confused,” and “NCBC Brain Death,” and “Catholic Teaching on Brain Death and Vital Organ Transplantation.”

[16] John M. Haas, Ph.D. – Liberty Institute for Faith & Ethics (liberty4life.org).

[17] EWTN received $1.25 million from the Knights in 2014; $250,000 in 2018; $857,000 in 2021. 990 tax forms.

[18] Laura Hazard Owen, “Crux’s corporate resurrection”: How the Catholic News site will live on beyond The Boston Globe,” March 24, 2016.

[19] See Randy Engel, “Knights of Columbus dump Crux – Who picked up the slack?” four-part series at AKA Catholic: Knights of Columbus Dump Crux: Who Picked up the Slack? – (akacatholic.com); Knights of Columbus Dump Crux: Who Picked up the Slack? Part II – (akacatholic.com); Knights of Columbus Dump Crux: Who Picked up the Slack? Part III – (akacatholic.com); https://akacatholic.com/knights-of-columbus-dump-crux-part-iv/.

[20] For a full dossier on Opus member San Martin and other Opus members of Crux see Knights of Columbus Dump Crux: Who Picked up the Slack? Part III – (akacatholic.com);

[21] According to an Amazon book promotion of Allen’s book, “The first serious journalistic investigation of the highly secretive, controversial organization Opus Dei provides unique insight about the wild rumors surrounding it and discloses its significant influence in the Vatican and on the politics of the Catholic Church.” In his introduction of December 8, 2004 to An Objective Look, Allen writes:

    When Doubleday first spoke with me about this project, I approached the people at the Rome headquarters of Opus Dei with some trepidation, given their legendary reputation for secrecy. I told them I was thinking of writing a book on Opus Dei and wanted to know if they would cooperate. Their immediate response was “yes” and so I signed the contract and began to work.” He added that Opus never faltered in their commitment to full disclosure.

However, Kirsten Biondich, who wrote a fascinating, online, must-read masters’ thesis titled “Operation Lemonade: Opus Dei’s Public Relations Campaign Against The Da Vinci Code,” in 2007, gives a different version of the circumstances surrounding Allen’s authorship of his study of the Prelature. Following a detailed background report on Opus’ three-year, multi-million dollar public relations campaign against Dan Brown’s anti-Christian The Da Vinci Code book (2003) and movie (2006) that features an Opus Dei murderous albino numerary “monk,” named Silas, Biondich quotes Kathleen Fearn-Banks, an “organizational crisis communications” expert hired by Opus to defuse the movie and book’s harmful portrayal of the Prelature. Among Fearn-Banks’s strategies to combating false rumors is “to get an outside expert on the subject to discredit the rumor in order to be more believable,” says Biondich. Then Biondich adds:

    Established Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter and a Vatican analyst for CNN and NPR, John L. Allen, Jr. was just the expert Opus Dei needed. During The Da Vinci Code crisis, Allen approached Opus Dei with a proposal for a book to show the real side of Opus Dei, to which they readily agreed and supported (emphasis added).

    … Allen’s book received plenty of media coverage during Opus Dei’s crisis. He participated in several interviews in which he countered rumors about Opus Dei with research from his book [provided by Opus Dei]. This outside expert certainly gave more credibility to Opus Dei when they needed it the most (emphasis added).

Kirsten Biondich, “Operation Lemonade: Opus Dei’s Public Relations Campaign Against the Da Vinci Code,” University of Florida, May 2007 is available at biondich_k.pdf (ufl.edu).

[22] Under the financial arrangement made between the Knights and Crux/John Allen, the former would contribute $350,000 annually towards a total Crux budget of $850,000. The Archdioceses of Washington, D.C., New York and Los Angeles and the Diocese of Brooklyn, with an Opus Dei bishop, provided the remaining funding.

[23] Engel “Dump Crux” AKA Catholic, series, Part I. Allen was divorced from his first wife, Shannon Levitt, a Jewess. The couple came to Rome in 2000, and she later became the business manager and copy editor for Crux for a decade before returning to the U.S. where she continue to work for Crux. Allen took Elise as his second wife in a civil ceremony.

[24] For details on the transfer of Crux from the Knights of Columbus to the Los Angeles Archdiocese see https://akacatholic.com/knights-of-columbus-dump-crux-part-iv/.

[25] J. Mancini, “Together Strong,” Columbia, 1/1/2021.

[26] The six co-founding members of the MFL with Nellie Gray were Eileen Vogel, Bill Devlin, Lou Gardner, Margaret Jacocks, John Mawn, and Mary Ann Pierce.

[27] After graduation from James Madison University with a BS in psychology, Monahan worked for the US Department of Health and Human Services. After graduation from the Opus-controlled Pope John II Institute, Mancini secured a job as former Associate Director of the Cardinal Maida Institute located in the St. John Center for Youth and Family, a prominent promoter of Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, for the Archdiocese of Detroit in Plymouth, Mich. (2002- 2006).From there, she accepted a position as Abstinence Advisor to the U.S. Agency for International Development (2006-2008) and later, to the USDHHS (2008-2009).In 2009, Mancini was hired by the Protestant Evangelical Family Research Council (a division of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family), in Washington, D.C., where she became Director for the Center for Human Dignity. For a closer look at Mancini’s feminist and anti-abortion views see The Case Against “ABORTION CONSENSUS” – The Prolife Movement at the Crossroads – (akacatholic.com)Whatever the amount of her initial salary as President of MFL, by 2014, Mancini’s reached $95, 927. By 2019 that figure jumped to $106, 384.00. Today it stands around $ 140,000.

[28] Patrick E. Kelly joined the Knights of Columbus while a college law student in 1983. Like Anderson, he served as a Past State Deputy of the District of Columbia; then moved up to the Order’s National Office as Vice President of Public Policy in 2006, and as Deputy Supreme of the Knights of Columbus from January 1, 2017 until February 28, 2021 when he succeeded Anderson as Supreme Knight. Prior to his ultimate rise as CEO of the Knights of Columbus, Kelly had a distinguished military record in the U.S. Navy as well as a long career of public service that included the office of Senior Ambassador to the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom at the State Department which brought Kelly in contact with the Holy See. Kelly serves as a “consultant” on several committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops alongside Carl Anderson including the Committee on Pro-life Activities, the Committee on Religious Liberty, and the Committee on Laity, Family Life and Youth. He is also a Board member of the Opus Dei National Catholics Bioethics Center since 2013. In 2011, when the Knights’ Supreme Council decided to bail out the financially-sinking ship of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C., Supreme Knight Anderson appointed Kelly as the first Executive Director of the new shrine dedicated to the Opus Dei pope. Both Monahan and Kelly had an Opus Dei connection, not necessarily an Opus membership, as they both received their Master’s degrees from the Opus-controlled Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Mariage and Family at Catholic University in Washington, D.C.

[29] Christopher White, ““March for Life president seeks big tent approach to pro-life cause,” Crux, January 12, 2018.

In a separate earlier interview with White in 2017, Mancini said she was determined to “transform the March to a more inclusive event – open to people of all faiths and no faith, and to folks of all political persuasions.”

[30] See Natalie Ise, “MFL President promotes Use of Secular language in Pro-Life Movement,” Oct.10, 2018, at https://thehoya.com/march-life-president-promotes-use-secular-language-anti-abortion-movement/.

[31] An example of the excessive spending misadventure of the post-Nellie Gray era involved one of the MFL Board’s new appointments, Diana Banister, who, on the 990 IRS 2014 form is listed as serving at zero compensation. Further investigation, however, shows that the firm the MFL Board hired as part of its new “New Media” campaign in 2016 is the well-known Alexandria, Virginia firm of Shirley & Banister Public Relations headed by President and CEO Craig Shirley and Diana Banister as VP. That same year, the IRS record shows that Banister received $48,015 for her “public relations services” which brings up the obvious question – Why does the MFL need a public relations agency at all?

[32] Carl Anderson, Beyond A House Divided – The Moral Consensus Ignored by Washington, Wall Street, and the Media, Doubleday, NY, 2010, p.7-8. Anderson defined the singular term “consensus” as endorsed by the Founding Fathers, as a 2/3rds majority, the number needed to override a veto to ratify a treaty.

[33] Carl Anderson, in the May 2, 2019 issue of the Des Moine Register, in an article titled “The Silent Democratic Majority On Abortion,” puts the limit at 20 weeks, that is 5 months. By about 3-to-1, Americans oppose abortion after 20 weeks – or don’t want it at all (emphasis added). This includes about 8 in 10 Republicans and independents and nearly 6 in 10 Democrats.

[34] Anderson, Beyond a House Divided, pp. 84-85.

[35] Catholic politicians should follow conscience, consensus on abortion | The Hill.

[36] See The akaCatholic Podcast: Episode 11 -.


[38] The tentacles of the Federalist Society reach out to a dozen or more Opus Dei “apostolates” including the Catholic Association and its associated Catholic Association Foundation; Catholic Voices; and the Ethics and Policy Center.

[39] 80 Percent Of Americans Support Limiting Abortion To The First Trimester (thefederalist.com).

[40] Ibid.

[41] Opus Dei member George Weigel is, the leading biographer of Karol Wojtyla also belongs to the society.

[42] Library : Magnum Matrimonii Sacramentum | Catholic Culture.

[43] See https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=8724#3.

[44] A sample annual cost of the Institute per year is 2013 $9,816,162; 2014 $13,101,873 + $440,916 + 478, 904 = $14,021,693; 2015 $15,781,312; 2018 $8,540,000; 2020 $7,484,120; 2021 $11,042,721 + $501,661 + 1,150,000 = $12,594,382. Given the fact that the above figures comingled the Institute and the Shrine’s expenses on the IRS forms, I estimated the Knights annual donation at Dechant’s original level of $50,000 per year exclusively designated to the Institute for 32 years which comes to about $160,000,000.

[45] See Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio Summa familiae cura, instituting the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for Matrimonial and Family Science (8 September 2017) | Francis (vatican.va).

[46] See Vatican Archbishop Commissions Blasphemous Homoerotic Mural (traditioninaction.org).

[47] Canonization of Josemaría Escrivá – Opus Dei.

© 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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