Even the Media Empire of the Knights of Columbus Is Getting a Bit Bergoglian

Even the Media Empire of the Knights of Columbus Is Getting a Bit Bergoglian

[Not a “bit” but a lot Bergoglian if you throw in all the other mentioned neo-Catholic news media/reporters/commentators (with a few exceptions in and among them) that the KofC underwrites]

Sandro Magister
05 June 17

At the end of this month of June it will be seen whether the Knights of Columbus in the United States will for another year dispense 100,000 dollars for “Vatican Insider,” the religious information site that is most closely connected to Pope Francis through its coordinator Andrea Tornielli, a friend of Jorge Mario Bergoglio since long before he was elected to the papacy and still his frequent visitor.

“Vatican Insider” is a creature of the Turin-based newspaper “La Stampa,” where Tornielli is the vaticanista, and is still published on the web platform of this daily. But since July 1 of 2014 it has been kept alive precisely through the annual support of 100,000 dollars supplied by the Knights of Columbus and until now renewed at each expiration.

The man who holds the keys of this donation is Thomas Smith Jr., executive director of the Knights of Columbus and second in command of the organization, right after supreme knight Carl Anderson (in the photo). They are both convinced that keeping “Vatican Insider” alive is a desire of Pope Francis himself, and feel the need to show their obedience and devotion to him in this way as well.

The reputation of the Knights of Columbus is in fact by no means in line with the novelties of the current pontificate. It should suffice to look at the recent portrait of the Knights in somber, ultraconservative tones drawn by the “National Catholic Reporter,” a leader of the progressive American Catholic media, in a series of highly documented articles that is summarized in this, the last:

> Editorial: Knights’ monetary influence skews our church

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The Knights of Columbus, founded in the United States in the middle of the nineteenth century by Irish immigrants, are a power without equal among Catholic associations.

It numbers 2 million affiliates, has assets of almost 2 billion dollars, manages a highly efficient insurance business, has annual revenues of more than 2.2 billion – in both 2014 and 2015, the most recent years for which figures are available – and over the past decade has given more than 1.5 billion dollars for charitable activities.

The income and expenditures are all documented according to the law, including the annual compensation of their men at the top, which for Anderson was 2,289,806 dollars in 2014 and 1,277,232 dollars in 2015, while for Smith it amounted to 766,795 dollars in 2014 and 972,215 dollars in 2015.

An extensive and detailed summary of the donations of the Knights of Columbus in recent years can be found in this other article from “National Catholic Reporter”:

> Knights of Columbus’ financial forms show wealth, influence

But here it should be enough to review what the Knights are doing in the field of the media, both in explicit form and in concealed form, precisely as is the case with “Vatican Insider,” the support for which is hidden, in the official accounts, under the generic entry of donations for “communication activities.”

*

The beneficiaries of support from the Knights of Columbus are above all media outlets that can be classified in the conservative Catholic camp, in line with the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

This is the case, in particular, of the “Eternal Word Television Network,” EWTN, the biggest Catholic multimedia chain in the world, founded by Mother Angelica in 1981 in the United States. The Knights gave 1.25 million dollars, in 2014, for the launch of a weekday evening news program entitled “News Nightly,” and have continued supporting it with 250,000 dollars a year.

Moreover, the Knights gave 245,000 dollars in 2014 in support of an online agency in the United States, the “Catholic News Agency,” CNA, which like its sister editions in Spanish, Portuguese, German, and Italian became part of EWTN that same year.

But moving from the popular to the cultivated, here too the Knights act with targeted generosity.

They donated 300,000 dollars in 2014 and another 98,000 in 2015 to the “Ethics and Public Policy Center,” the Washington-based think tank in which the standout is George Weigel, one of the best-known conservative Catholic thinkers, the leading biographer of Karol Wojtyla as well as a board member of the “Institute on Religion and Public Life” that publishes “First Things,” the most prestigious publication of conservative Catholic thought, for which Weigel is a regular writer.

It comes as no surprise, therefore, seeing these positionings, that in the course of the current pontificate the Knights of Columbus should have felt the need to balance their profile, to make it more acceptable to the outlook of Pope Francis.

The support of “Vatican Insider” is part of this operation of rebalancing. But it is not the only one.

For more than a year, the Knights of Columbus have been financing “Crux,” the portal of religious information created in 2014 by the “Boston Globe” and entrusted to its vaticanista John Allen Jr., but quickly dropped because of the lack of advertising revenue.

Since then “Crux,” still directed by Allen, stays alive with open support from the Knights, who cover 350,000 of the 850,000 dollars that make up the overall annual costs of the site, the rest being covered by about 125,000 dollars of advertising revenue and contributions from the “DeSales Media Group” of the diocese of Brooklyn and from the archdioceses of Washington, New York, and Los Angeles.

“Crux” cannot be classified as either progressive or conservative. The analyses by Allen in particular have always been distinguished by their factual objectivity.

For some time, however, one of the more prominent bylines hosted by the site has been that of the English vaticanista Austen Ivereigh, who is an unbridled supporter and enthusiastic biographer of Bergoglio and makes this all too clear in every line he writes.

Finally, there is the support that the Knights of Columbus have given for decades to the Vatican media, under no matter which pope.

Already in 1965 the Knights donated a shortwave transmitter to Vatican Radio, when this system of transmission was more necessary than ever to get the pope’s voice across the Iron Curtain.

And they were no less generous afterward in supporting the first worldwide television broadcasts of the great pontifical celebrations and then little by little the enhancement of Vatican systems of production and broadcast, until the ultramodern ones of today.

For this reason as well in 2007 Carl Anderson, supreme head of the Knights, was appointed as a consultant for the pontifical council for social communications. And two years later as a member of the supervisory board of the Institute for Works of Religion, IOR, the Vatican “bank.”

In this last role he was the most vehement and ruthless in defenestrating Ettore Gotti Tedeschi from the presidency of the IOR on May 24, 2012, in one of the most obscure Vatican events in recent decades.

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One comment on “Even the Media Empire of the Knights of Columbus Is Getting a Bit Bergoglian

  1. Obviously, this is a European writer, but if the observations about First Things (” the most prestigious publication of conservative Catholic thought”) are correct, Catholic conservatives are in a lot of trouble. It’s an “ecumenical” journal with a heavy Protestant slant obscuring matters of Catholic culture. The Knights, like other Catholic organizations in the U.S., suffer from the decline of Catholic education caused by the modernist Land O’Lakes conference agenda and the apostasy afflicting Irish-American Catholics in general in the U.S. since Vatican II. The USCCB, packed with modernist fruitcakes, does very little to address this decline and apostasy, showing more interest in promoting socialism. Both the Knights and Catholic conservatives need to rethink what they are doing and who is representing them. We see a lot of the same neo-Catholic modernist poseurs and self-appointed experts engaging in self-congratulatory rehearsals of modernist jargon and the Spirit of Vatican II while Rome burns. That’s not fooling anyone familiar with this modernist game. You can call it the “Knights” or “prestigious” but modernist submission to the Bergoglian agenda is silly.

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