Randy Engel
Knights of Columbus dump Crux–Who picked up the slack?
Part I – Focus on the Knights of Columbus bailout of Crux
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By Randy Engel
April 22, 2020

Knights of Columbus Bail Out Liberal Crux

Remember all the publicity and fanfare back in March of 2016 when the Knights of Columbus proudly announced that they were entering into a “partnership” with Crux Catholic Media, Inc. headed by the former National Catholic Reporter’s John L. Allen Jr.?

Here is the text of the Knights’ March 15, 2016, official press release to refresh your memory:

    The Knights of Columbus and Crux are pleased to announce that they plan to enter into a partnership in which Crux will remain an independent news outlet headed by John L. Allen Jr. and Inés San Martín.

    The project is designed to make one of the world's best known Catholic news platforms even stronger. The partnership will combine the Knights' resources and spirit of service with the journalistic experience and commitment of Crux.

    As part of the project, Catholic Pulse, a news and commentary website operated by the Knights of Columbus, will merge with Crux, adding its resources to Crux's blend of staff-generated reporting and analysis with pieces by respected guest contributors. The Crux website will feature the tagline: "Keeping its finger on the Catholic Pulse."

    Reporting and analysis by Allen and San Martín will continue to focus primarily on the Vatican, the Church and Catholic issues generally, and international religious freedom. The aim is to ensure that informed, responsible, and fair journalism helps to set the tone for discussion of Catholic affairs in the United States and around the world. Over time, plans call for additional contributors to be identified to add their commentary to the lineup.[1]

Supreme Knight Carl Anderson added a personal touch:

    We are very pleased to have the opportunity to join together in this important venture and look forward to this partnership with Crux, and with its principals, John L. Allen Jr. and Inés San Martín, as they continue to build on their record of thoughtful and intelligent journalism and commentary. Crux is an important voice and key source of news for Catholics and about Catholic issues, and we are very pleased to be able to keep this important voice speaking to the Church and to the world.[2]

And here we have the ecstatic comments of Mr. Allen, the primary beneficiary of the Knight’s largesse.

We are thrilled with this partnership with the Knights of Columbus. The Knights are one of the most dynamic and effective Catholic organizations in the world, and their generosity will help ensure that Crux can continue telling the broad Catholic story.[3]

    We are very pleased to know that the Knights of Columbus will be sponsoring Crux going forward. The original launch of this innovative forum for reporting news and sharing conversations concerning the Catholic Church was a great encouragement. We appreciate the Boston Globe having provided the startup for Crux and are confident that the Knights of Columbus, under the capable leadership of Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, will achieve new levels of success with this most important communication tool, on behalf of the work of the Church and the good of the wider community.[4]

Homosexual Group Nixes the Knights’ Sponsorship

One additional commentary of March 16, 2016, came from the openly-sodomite group Dignity which expressed fear that the new Knights/Crux arrangement would disturb Crux’s “high quality, independent journalism” on Catholic (L) lesbian, (G) “gay”, (B) bisexual, (T) transgender and (Q) queer concerns. Marianne Duddy-Burke, DignityUSA’s Executive Director said she was “deeply concerned that the Knights may try to use the trust Crux has built as an authority on ‘all things Catholic,’ to silence voices that have important perspectives on key issues facing our Church and our world.” Duddy-Burke said she hoped to meet with Allen and San Martin so to better understand “what the conversation about editorial independence has been, and how they plan to ensure that Crux continues to be a credible resource for the whole Church.”[5]

Apparently, the poor woman has never faithfully followed Allen’s columns and opinions on matters sexual, otherwise she would have known her worries about Crux coming down hard on the forces of organized perversion in the Catholic Church were all for naught. Allen may be passionate about many things, but investigating and exposing sodomites and lesbian enclaves, especially in the U.S. hierarchy or female religious orders or the Vatican Curia is not one of them.[6]

Knights Quietly Pull the Plug on CRUX

So it may come as a shock to many Knights and Catholic laity that after four years and more than two million bucks of hard-earned grassroots Knights of Columbus money gone down the drain, the Supremes at the Knights Tower in New Haven, Connecticut, have finally pulled the financial plug on Crux.

This writer received confirmation that the Knights had stopped supporting Crux from Knight Joseph Cullen, Senior Communications Specialist for the National office following a series of email communications concerning the Knights’ financial investment in Crux news service. Here is a short timetable on that communication:

  • On November 2, 2019, I sent an initial media query into the National office asking for information on the Knights’ total financial investment in Crux since 2016. I noted that this information was not available in any Knights publication or article on the subject that I had reviewed in connection with an investigation I was conducting. Unfortunately, I used an old email address and the query was returned to me unanswered.

  • On November 7, 2019, I obtained an updated address for Cullen. The query reached its mark. I asked him to provide me with information concerning the total payout made by the Knights to Crux from 2016 to the present time and what benefits were accrued to the Knights from their investment (I unfortunately used the word “ownership”) in Crux.

  • The following day, November 8, 2019, I received the following illuminative response from Mr. Cullen:

      The Knights of Columbus have never owned Crux. We were one of a number of sponsors, but our sponsorship ended several months ago. Additionally, please note that your recent article [The Catholic Inquisitor] identifying Supreme Knight Carl Anderson as a member of Opus Dei is inaccurate. While some others have likewise made this claim, in fact. Mr. Anderson has never been a member of that organization. We’d be grateful for a correction on this.

  • To which this writer replied:

      Thanks, Joe, for your reply. Carl Anderson has had a long formal relationship with Opus Dei. So you won’t get “a correction” from me. I’ve been covering this Crux issue for several years. When did the Knights publicly announce they had severed ties with Crux? I never saw such a notice. Was that [severance from Crux] because of the [Elise] Harris/[John] Allen affair? When did the Knights learn of this matter? Were your rank and file members notified of the fact that the Knights were no longer funding Crux?

  • Shortly after this communication was sent out, Cullen asked for my deadline and I told him November 27th. The time passed quickly, but no further information was ever received.

  • On the 23rd of December 2019, my final communication went out to the Knights on the Crux matter:

      Dear Joe, It was my understanding that you were going to send me the financial information I requested on the Crux-Knights of Columbus transaction that began in March 2016. I asked you to provide information on the initial amount paid out by the Knights for this business venture between March 2016 until mid-2019 when you indicated that the Knights ended its sponsorship of Crux. I presume you are a man of your word.

      Please forward that information as promised. Also, please indicate the date when the Knights’ sponsorship of Crux was terminated along with a copy of the press release that accompanied that termination. I presume that you did inform your membership that the arrangement with Crux had ended.

    Some Clarifications on the Cullen Response

    First, when Cullen states that the Knights of Columbus (a non-profit entity) were just “one of a number of sponsors” to partnership with Crux (a for-profit company), this is stretching the truth. It was the Knights who “rescued” Crux from falling into oblivion when The Boston Globe officially closed down the news service on April 1, 2016.

    That the majority of news outlets viewed the Knights and Crux “partnership” as a surprise and gratuitous “bailout” is evident in the headlines of major media outlets following the Knights’ initial announcement. For example, “Globe’s Catholic Site rescued by Knights of Columbus” was the headline from the Boston Business Journal[7] and “Knights of Columbus Come to the Rescue of Crux – Why are the Knights funding more left-wing Catholicism?” was the title to an article by Church Militant writer Ryan Fitzgerald.[8][viii]

    As to the exact amount of money Supreme Knight Carl Anderson and his Executive Knights sank into Crux from March 2016 [including startup costs] until somewhere between July 2019 and early November 2019 [including severance costs] , the Knights’ public relation man, Joseph Cullen, has yet to make that information public.

    However, it is possible to make an educated guess based on some of Allen’s earlier comments to the press.

    In the spring of 2017, the “progressive” National Catholic Reporter, Allen’s old employer for sixteen years, ran a series titled “Knights of Columbus’ financial forms show wealth, influence.”[9] According to NCR editor, Tom Roberts, Allen told him via email that “the Knights of Columbus contributes $350,000 a year "against a total budget of around" $850,000. Advertising earns Crux about $125,000 a year, and other support comes from the DeSales Media Group in the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, and from the Archdioceses of Washington, New York and Los Angeles.”

    Over an estimated three-year period that would come out to $1,050,000.

    However, in an earlier article on the Knights and Crux “partnership,” I recall Allen saying that the Knights as the “principal partner” absorbed 2/3 of the cost of maintaining Crux which would bring us closer to $2,000,000.

    And what did the Knights of Columbus executives and rank and file members receive in return from the for-profit corporation?

    As far as I can see, the answer is zilch!

    The Harris-Allen Affair

    In my final communication to Mr. Cullen cited above, I made reference to “the Harris-Allen Affair” which deserves a short explanation.

    On October 23, 2019, my colleague George Neumayr issued an interesting tweet stating:

      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.

    Elise Harris is the Senior Correspondent for Crux living in Rome. Allen’s (ex) wife, Shannon Levitt, a Jewess, who has been Allen’s business manager and copy editor for well over a decade has returned to the United States and is still on the Crux payroll as is Elise Harris, and, of course, Mr. Allen.

    Shortly after the George Neumayr tweet appeared, Capuchin Father Joseph Mary Elder announced that Allen was engaged to be married to Harris.[10]

    In his October 30, 2019 report on pseudo-Catholic reporters, Michael Voris of Church Militant noted:

      Some of these so-called reporters not only disagree with the Church’s teaching, but actually live their day-to-day lives in contradiction to it. Last week we chose to keep the identity of one such Rome reporter quiet for the sake of charity. But since then, there are multiple reports all over social media that the Catholic reporter who dumped his wife and is shacked up with another woman is John Allen from Crux. In short, his cover is blown…

      This situation is scandalous, and so is the situation of Allen’s other liberal buddies covering for him.

      A few weeks ago, Bp. Robert Barron brought Allen on board as a contributor to his Word on Fire self-promotion outfit.

      So here is a Catholic man objectively committing adultery, who reports non-stop on Vatican affairs – and we’re supposed to think his reporting can be trusted.

      And frankly, this tidy little arrangement between Allen and Barron calls into serious question Barron’s legitimacy.

      Allen’s dalliances are a very poorly kept secret in Church reporting circles. It’s a little hard to believe that Barron didn’t know anything about them. But, to give him the benefit of a doubt, if he didn’t, he does now. So watch and see what Barron does.[11]

    Since the story of the Allen and Harris affair broke in late October 2019, there have been some interesting developments in the case.

    Elise Harris and John Allen have indeed tied the knot and are “civilly” married. This writer only found out about the couple’s change in marital status on March 4, 2020, when I was looking up an item for this series and noted that Angelus News (an official publication of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles) had changed Elise’s name on their website from Elise Harris to Elise Ann Allen. Thus far, I have not seen any public announcement concerning Allen’s second hook-up or if an “annulment” was secured by Allen from his long-time wife, Shannon Levitt, who, like Harris, also works for Crux.

    Concerning the Knights of Columbus Executive Board, it would be interesting to know if the Harris-Allen affair was a factor in the decision to terminate their financial support of Crux.

    Concerning the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and its head, Opus Dei Archbishop José H. Gómez, when did diocesan officials including Gómez understand that Allen was involved in an “irregular” relationship with his Crux employee Elise Harris in Rome? Was it before or after, Allen and Harris were invited to appear at a video session of the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress on March 23, 2019?[12] Was it before or after John Allen gave the keynote address “With Distinction” at the Brown Robe gala, the annual benefit of the Capuchin Fathers in October of 2019?[13]

    Certainly, inquiring minds of rank and file members of the Knights of Columbus and many Catholic pewsitters especially in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles want to know.

    (To be continued)

    ____________________________________

    [1] Knights of Columbus Press Release, March 15, 2016 at http://www.kofc.org/en/news/releases/crux-knights-partners.html.

    [2] ”Crux will continue with the Knights of Columbus as its partner,” Crux staff, March 15, 2016 at https://cruxnow.com/church/2016/03/crux-will-continue-with-the-knights-of-columbus-as-its-partner/.

    [3] Ibid.

    [4] Ibid.

    [5] “LGBT Catholics Concerned about Crux moving to Knights of Columbus,”DignityUSA press release, Mach 16, 2016 at https://www.dignityusa.org/article/lgbt-catholics-concerned-about-crux-moving-knights-columbus.

    [6] See “John Allen Jr: The Gatekeeper of Crunchy Catholicism,” by Dr. Jesse Russell, The Remnant, December 30, 2017, at https://remnantnewspaper.com/web/index.php/fetzen-fliegen/item/3635-john-allen-jr-the-gatekeeper-of-crunchy-catholicism.

    [7] “Globe’s Catholic site rescued by Knights of Columbus,” Greg Ryan, Law and Money Reporter, Boston Business Journal, March 15, 2016, at https://www.bizjournals.com/boston/news/2016/03/15/globe-s-catholic-site-rescued-by-knights-of.html.

    [8] “Knights of Columbus Come to the Rescue of Crux,” Ryan Fitzgerald, March 20, 2016, at https://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/knights-of-columbus-come-to-the-rescue-of-crux.

    [9] See https://www.ncronline.org/news/accountability/knights-columbus-financial-forms-show-wealth-influence.

    [10] See https://capuchins.org/2019/10/23/friends-of-the-friars-3/.

    [11] See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsh50cMY010.

    [12] See https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Los+Angeles+archDiocese+RECongress+2019&view=detail&mid=53E6A9E4A47E8C4773F253E6A9E4A47E8C4773F2&FORM=VIRE and https://akacatholic.com/od-affair/.

    [13] See https://capuchins.org/brown-robe-benefit/.

    © 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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