Who funded Kari Beckman’s fall from grace?

By Simcha and Damien Fisher

Kari Beckman was going to build Veritatis Splendor, a village of Catholic “true believers” in the heart of Texas. Now, after acknowledging an illicit relationship, reportedly with Texas Right to Life head and Regina Caeli board member Jim Graham, she’s moved out of the property’s luxury ranch and back to Atlanta, and has stepped down as executive director of Regina Caeli Academy and Veritatis Splendor. 

As for the village, one $3 million loan later, not a single structure has yet been built on the land, and the members of Regina Caeli across the nation are left wondering if their homeschool tuition fees and bake sale fundraising dollars paid for the grandiose Tyler, Texas project, or for any of  Beckman’s other, more clandestine activities of the past year.

Beckman, who founded the homeschool hybrid Regina Caeli Academy in 2003, sent a letter to the members of Regina Caeli at the end of last week acknowledging “a terrible lapse in judgment with a personal relationship.” Multiple sources confirmed the relationship was with Jim Graham. Beckman and Graham are both married. Beckman said she immediately sought forgiveness through the sacrament of confession, and then, months later, confessed to her husband. She said that she and her husband then both went to the board of Regina Caeli and told them “what had occurred,” and then stepped down as Executive Director. 

Shortly before she stepped down, the Board of Directors received an anonymous letter alleging Beckman had carried on an illicit sexual relationship with Graham.  Graham was also, until recently, on the Board of Regina Caeli, but his name has recently been removed from that site, along with Kari Beckman’s name. Beckman’s husband remains listed as a board member. Three other board members are no longer listed on the site, and Nicole Juba has been named acting Executive Director.  

Texas Right to Life is the organization that launched prolifewhistleblower.com, the tipline website that lets people report abortions in hopes of collecting a $10,000 bounty under the controversial new “Texas Heartbeat Act” (SB8), and Jim Graham has been instrumental in the Texas pro-life movement’s hard shift toward the right. The website has gone offline twice, and now redirects to the Texas Right to Life site, but does not currently function as a tipline. The law, which has undergone several legal challenges, has been unpopular even within some factions of the conservative pro-life community, some of whom view it as anything from distasteful to politically reckless to counter-productive.

Graham, who appears in a fundraising video for Veritatis Splendor along with Beckman, has been Executive Director of Texas Right to Life, which was founded by his father, since 1994. Neither Graham nor the media representative for the Texas Right to Life returned phone calls seeking comment.

“This is two heads of very Catholic organizations. We literally do hold ourselves to a higher standard. And to be lectured about virtue while this was going on . . . unbelievable,” said one Regina Caeli Academy parent and former tutor. She asked not to be identified, for fear of reprisal. 

The parent is referring to the fact that Regina Caeli and Veritatis Splendor, including in the very video in which Beckman and Graham both appear, both explicitly framed their organizations as a refuge from the immorality of the secular world. Parents flocked to Regina Caeli in part because it emphasizes the development of personal virtues and traditional values like chastity and self-control. 

“The fact that my kids’ tuition was funding their affair,” the parent said, and then attached a “vomit” emoji to their message. 

 

“We essentially bought them a ranch.”

But it’s not merely a matter of spiritual hypocrisy that distresses this and other Regina Caeli families. The anonymous letter-writer told us they also filed two complaints with the IRS on November 12 asking for an investigation of Beckman’s possible financial misuse of Regina Caeli funds. The complaints accused Regina Caeli of “using assets for personal gain” and “questionable fundraising practices.”

As one RCA parent put it, “We essentially bought them a ranch.”

But the alleged financial malfeasance goes deeper than that. The letter-writer alleged, “Mrs. Beckman uses Regina Caeli as her personal bank account” and that Beckman hand-selected the board to do her bidding, and deliberately hid her financial activities from the families who supplied the money she allegedly spent. Regina Caeli’s most recent tax forms list their total assets in 2018 at $4.2 million, with $3.4 million in liabilities.

The letter to the IRS enumerates four major complaints involving Regina Caeli Academy and Veritatis Splendor:

-That Regina Caeli Academy employees were pulled from their RCA jobs to launch and raise funds for Veritatis Splendor;

-that RCA borrowed over $3 million from an RCA board member to finance the property for Veritatis Splendor;

-that the RCA board approved the purchase of a $45,000 Chevy Tahoe for Veritatis Splendor, and has been paying for its insurance, even though the vehicle does not serve Regina Caeli in any way;

-and that the property, purchased by RCA, contains a luxury lodge in which the Beckman family has been living for many months.

The complaint says:

 “Fundraising at Regina Caeli was of the utmost importance. Families were required to fundraise in a variety of ways, and were always told that this fundraising was to support the education and mission of Regina Caeli. Of the $423,509.79 that was fundraised between Oct. 20, 2020 and May 21, 2021, how much of that was used for Regina Caeli? How much was used to purchase a piece of land in Winona, Texas so Mrs. Beckman could form a cult?”

The person filing the complaint also had further questions:

“When Regina Caeli Academy used travel and hotel rewards programs for training, campus visits, etc, who reaped the benefits of those massive rewards points? Were those put on Regina Caeli rewards cards, or Mrs. Beckman’s personal rewards cards? Did the Beckman family travel and vacation using those points? 

“Is Regina Caeli going to provide Board meeting minutes for the Board meetings where Jim Graham was present as a member of the Board, while the affair was taking place? 

“Is Regina Caeli planning to undergo a financial audit? If Mrs. Beckman had such a major lapse in judgement with regards to her personal life, what would prevent her from having a lapse in judgement in the financial affairs of the organization?”

 

No board member has responded to our repeated calls for comment. Kari Beckman, Rich Beckman, Jim Graham, Nicole Juba, and Regina Caeli and Vertitatis Splendor’s communications offices have not responded to our repeated calls for comment. Bishop Joseph Strickland, an outspoken booster of Veritatis Splendor, was not available for comment.

 

When Regina Caeli members were first abruptly informed that their school was now an umbrella organization for a quasi-religious megadevelopment in Texas, some complained. 

One member said that she and her husband were assured that, at some point, the finances of Regina Caeli Academy and Veritatis Splendor would be separated, but that “these things take time.”

“When I and many other families expressed our surprise and displeasure at this being sprung on us out of nowhere, we were basically told, ‘It’s our organization and we can do whatever the heck we want, and if you don’t like it, there’s the door,'” one former tutor said. 

 

Regina Caeli families were, however, offered the opportunity to buy land at Veritatis Splendor. On August 4, RCA families received a letter from Kari Beckman claiming there has been a “HUGE and overwhelming response to those interested in purchasing lots” which range in price from $90,000 to $140,000 and are between 2 and 5 acres. Beckman reminded prospective buyers that, while the lots are selling quickly, there is no need to build right away after purchasing one, and that lots may be purchased “for primary or vacation/retreat homes.” 

The former tutor confirms that she knows just one family who invested $90,000 in Veritatis Splendor land, but said jokingly that the rest of her RCA friends had no interest in accepting Kari Beckman as the head of their homeowner’s association.

“No way, Jose,” she said. 

Talking sideways

 

This isn’t the first time Regina Caeli has been accused of a lack of financial transparency. In 2016, a former RCA member filed a lawsuit alleging that, when he asked to review financial information so he could determine how the school was spending the money their group raised and solicited, the director responded that “it was not RCA’s ‘style’ to provide any financial information, other than the IRS form 990’s.” The suit alleges RCA then retaliated against the entire family for their inquiry. The suit also alleged that RCA ran afoul of Michigan charitable fundraising laws. The lawsuit was settled out of court.

While it’s rare for a member to muster a lawsuit against RCA, it’s common for members and former members to complain that their concerns go unheard, and that they’re routinely bullied into silence under the guise of christian charity. 

The school explicitly forbids what it called “murmuring,” allegedly to discourage a spirit of gossip among the families involved. 

 

“Conflict is viewed through a religious lens,” said one former employee. “Instead of taking [complaints] seriously on their merits, this spiritual lens means if you disagree, you’re not just wrong; you’re bad.

 

“It starts with totally appropriate conflict resolution based on [the book of] Matthew: Go to your brother, etc. Keep things in the proper channels of communication. As a first principle, this is good. However, that morphs into culture. There is this total obsession with not ‘talking sideways’ or gossiping. Don’t talk to anybody about any issues you have, from small to big.

 

“But most of the families are also employees. So if I have an issue, I only have one person I’m supposed to talk to, and their next person up is Kari, or one person down from up. There is a near obsession with, ‘Who have you talked to about this?’ If you’re mad, talk to that person. That’s good. But it morphs into a hierarchical obsession with being quiet,” the former employee said. 

 

At the same time, the school exerted a tight micromanagement of its members — sometimes insisting on puritanical standards that contrast starkly with what members now know about Beckman’s private behavior.

 

The school cracked down on staffers who shared photos of themselves in tank tops on social media. There are bizarre stories of moral panic over innocent outings with even the whiff of immorality. A group of Regina Caeli families travelled together to see a production of The Nutcracker, and although it was not an official school outing, they had used the school email to communicate about it, and Regina Caeli heads considered the trip problematic because the tutus worn by the dancers were too short, and deemed the show “soft porn.”

 

The former employee said that she remembers how Beckman once saw a staff member post on social media about decorating her house for Christmas, and Beckman contacted her to chide her, saying that visible Christmas decorations during the Advent season could cause scandal.
 

This pervasive straight-laced environment has made the revelations of extramarital misconduct especially hard for RCA members to stomach. Several members recalled that, when they applied to teach for Regina Caeli, they were required to sign a statement of fidelity to the magisterium, and that, during their interview, Regina Caeli recruiters asked them if their marriage was canonically valid, and whether they use contraception. 

“Apparently, the sexual ethics of one family was so critical to the culture of the organization, but the fact that the executive director is sleeping with a board member is something that can just be chalked up to spiritual attack,” said one former RCA family who had a position in national leadership. 

Multiple sources told us they were willing to speak on the record, but only anonymously, because they feared social or even legal retaliation for what would be perceived as disloyalty. Some RCA families have become adept in creating secret groups to communicate with each under the radar. More than one source has expressed concern that their emails to us may be monitored. 

 

Still worth saving?

 

While members are reeling from the recent revelations, many hope the good fruits of the school can be rescued from Beckman’s influence. Many parents have described the school as something of a godsend, allowing them both the freedom of homeschooling and the structure of the traditional classroom. Mothers of small children often teach with their babies and toddlers in tow, allowing them to be fully involved with their children’s education while leaning on a supportive and nurturing community. 

 

But others believe the very structure of the program routinely becomes exploitative, and is, in practice, uncomfortably close to a multi-level marketing scheme. 

In Regina Caeli’s program, paying members homeschool their own children for three days a week, using a standardized curriculum, and the school provides support and access to tutors and extracurricular activities. Parents who are also tutors receive a discount on the entire program, and all members are expected to fundraise and to recruit new members, in addition to paying tuition. Tuition, which covers two classroom days (for which uniforms are required), ranges from $2,800 per PreK student for a half day to $4,500 per high school student. 

There are twenty-three RCA satellite schools throughout the country, and they are all run on precisely the same plan, down to minutiae of how to dress and how to have parties. In practice, a family of four children will tote up a bill of over $10,000 as a base, not counting curriculum or uniforms. Parents can knock that total down by several thousand dollars by working for minimum wage for what can end up being as much as sixty hours a week, not counting the volunteer and fundraising work the family is expected to provide. 

 

As exhausting, frustrating, and dissatisfied as parents were, and despite how frustrated they became with the school’s lack of transparency over how tuition and fundraising money was spent, several parents reported feeling like they had no choice but to continue with the school. A family’s entire educational, social, and spiritual community would be at the school; and they have been told repeatedly that their children’s souls will be in danger if they attempt some other form of schooling. And even if they suspected that wasn’t true, they knew there would be reprisals if they questioned it. 

 

“If you have your seven kids and this is their school, and their friends, the only way you can make it work is by working as a tutor,” said a former employee. “You get paid minimum wage plus a fat tuition discount, and the only way you can make it work is to work there, so you’re really afraid to rock the boat, because it will affect your children.”

 

The former tutor quoted above said that several moms have told her, “I feel like a battered woman, going back every year.”
 

A spiritual bouquet and a meal train for Beckman

 

But Beckman and her supporters have done their best to portray her as the victim in the current scandal. 

 

She said in her letter to RCA members that keeping the secret of her relationship “left me feeling despondent and it began to take a physical toll on my mind and my body.”

She said, “I have been in therapy and have been receiving daily spiritual direction in order to get strong enough to face my shame.  My therapist has diagnosed me with Complex PTSD due to the circumstances which led to my fall.”

 

She said, “I do not expect your forgiveness nor do I expect your understanding.  I am struggling to forgive myself and to make sense of what I did.  I am sorry this did not come sooner, but honestly, I was not in an emotional place to make good decisions.”
 

On October 25, RCA families and staff received an email from Nicole Juba, who had at that point asked for increased prayers for Beckman. 

 

“As Mrs. Beckman has started her journey towards recovery, the RCA Board of Directors has become aware of a serious spiritual matter that is the underlying basis for her current physical and emotional suffering. Accordingly, the Board has asked her to take additional time away for both physical and spiritual healing and counseling,” the letter said. 

 

They also requested a meal train for the Beckman family. 

Many RCA members are less concerned with Beckman’s personal suffering, though, and more concerned with the fate of Regina Caeli Academy going forward. The anonymous letter writer has written a second letter to the board on November 14, urging them to divest themselves completely of Beckman’s influence. 

“Although I am relieved to hear of her separation from the organization, there must be follow up from you specifying that her retirement is permanent and irrevocable. She should no longer have access to her email account. There is no need for her to supervise or have any role in the transition,” the letter said. 

The letter calls for Kari Beckman’s husband Rich Beckman to step down as Chairman of the Board, because “many Regina Caeli families have for years believed that the Board of Directors is in place simply to do Mrs. Beckman’s bidding.” The letter writer believes that Kari Beckman is likely to attempt to continue to run Regina Caeli by proxy. 

“Board members must be stewards of community trust. The Board has a fiduciary duty to the members of the organization – not to Mrs. Beckman personally. Can all the members of the Board claim they have always acted in the best interest of the mission of Regina Caeli?” the letter asks.

 

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Catholic Megadevelopment VERITATIS SPLENDOR is long on rhetoric, short on details

Bishop Joseph Strickland, the outspoken shepherd of the diocese of Tyler, Texas, is promoting a gargantuan new planned Catholic community called Veritatis Splendor. The proposed compound will cover nearly 600 acres and will include “a grand oratory and seven institutes of truth.” It aims to eventually become home to dozens of Catholic families who can live, worship, and go to school together, as well as enjoying swimming, hunting, and horseback riding within a community that shares and preserves their Catholic ideals. 

“There, the faithful can gather to produce the first wave of apostles, planting the seeds for other Veritatis Splendor locations nationally and globally,” said co-founder Kari Beckman. 

“It is a community of true believers who work and live together to safeguard the deposit of faith through an uncompromising fidelity to Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition,” the website said.

The first phase is to be an oratory “conceived in the architecture and structure of the Italian cathedrals erected in places such as Siena, Florence and Assisi.” To build it and fund other “advancement expenses,” Veritatis Splendor ultimately wants $22 million. As of March 3, they have raised over $37,00o.

“We are building a viculus, a little village, and we want you to join us,” the Veritatis Splendor fundraising site says

But while the website and promotional video are full of apocalyptic music and imagery warning Catholics of wolves and masks, interspersed with video of sun-drenched outdoor Eucharistic benediction and a blonde cowgirl mounting a horse, it’s short on details about how the project will be governed, how funds will be managed, who has oversight over the community of priests who will live there permanently, and how it will ensure its residents live according to Catholic ideals, as they apparently must pledge to do in order to move in.

The site also doesn’t mention that the parent company behind the proposed Veritatis Splendor development, Regina Caeli Inc., was sued in a 2016. The  lawsuit alleged that Regina Caeli, Inc. defamed a whistleblower who threatened to expose RCA’s alleged fraud, tax violations, and violations of the Fair Labor Standard Act, and that they allegedly fired his wife in retaliation. The plaintiffs alleged RCA is “run like a cult.” 

In the diocese but not of the diocese

According to the National Catholic Register’s promotional interview, Veritatis Splendor “is not an official diocesan project; rather, it is an independent, lay-inspired Catholic organization.” 

However, the Veritatis Splendor promotional video refers to Strickland as “co-founder.” Several of the donors thank Bishop Strickland personally for leading the project, on the fundraising site. The bishop is prominent on the project’s promotional video and on the Veritatis Splendor website, which refers to him as “the last priest to be made a Bishop under the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI.” 

In the video, Strickland says, “Where I come from, people speak plainly.”

The appeals email says, “Bishop Strickland and The Founders of Veritatis Splendor are asking you to join them in support of this mission through sacrificial Lenten almsgiving.” Although the email says Bishop Strickland is soliciting donations, it does not say in the email that the organization is private and not an official diocesan project.

Kevin Wandra of Carmel Communications, which handles public relations for Veritatis Splendor, said, “This is not a diocesan effort.” But the bishop is indisputably using his name and his office to direct donations and support to the project.

Also, his services as priest are included in the highest tier of perks offered to donors

Donors who contribute $25 will receive his book, Guard the Deposit of Faith, but donors who contribute $10,000 are entitled to a tour and a private dinner with the founders, and it says “Bishop Strickland will also celebrate Mass for all those in attendance.” 

It is common practice for priests to accept a voluntary stipend when they say Mass by request, and the typical amount is $5 $10. No stipend is required, though, so as to avoid even the appearance that Mass is being sold for money. The voluntary collection of a stipend is distinct from the practice of simony, or collecting temporal goods for spiritual services.

Mass with Bishop Strickland is only listed as a perk for donors at the $10,000 level; it is not offered as a perk to those who contribute $5,000 or less. 

Wandra disagreed that listing Mass as part of a perk might possibly be perceived as simony.

“It is very clear that the donation is for Veritatis Splendor, regardless of whether one gets to receive a gesture of appreciation for that gift. For those who donate more than $10,000, we will be having a special dinner to thank them and show them in person the plans for the property. And Mass will be celebrated for anyone who attends as a courtesy since these will be planned for Sundays on the property,” Wandra said. 

 

Priests who stay put

In a typical diocesan parish, the bishop assigns parish priests according to the changing needs of the community in which they live. Assignments generally last 5-7 years, but are rarely permanent, so that the needs of the entire diocese can be taken into account, and to discourage congregations from forming unhealthy attachments to individual priests.  But in Veritatis Splendor, when the priests arrive, they will stay put. 

“At the center of Veritatis Splendor will be a grand Oratory, led by a community of Catholic priests under a particular charism of apostolic life. These priests will reside in the community and be permanent members of Veritatis Splendor in East Texas and not subject to transfers or re-assignments,”the case statement says.

Wandra clarified that these priests will be Oratorians in the tradition of St. Philip Neri. Oratorians are not a religious order; they are secular priests (i.e., they have not made religious vows). Oratorians must have permission from the local bishop to found an Oratory (which is not a parish church), such as the one proposed for Veritatis Splendor; but the community of priests is relatively autonomous. They answer not to the bishop of the diocese in which they live, but to Rome. The bishop has, according to canon law, a duty to be “vigilant” about their spiritual well-being and about the effects of the community in his diocese, but the relationship between the diocese and such communities is not clearly defined. 

The Veritatis Splendor site gives no information about the proposed community of priests or who would have authority over them. It does not specify that they are Oratorians in the tradition of Philip Neri (the word “Oratorian” does not always refer to this specific community of priests and laymen).

Laymen may not be aware that priests who live and work within their diocese are not necessarily under the authority of their local bishop; and that the diocese would not be obligated to disclose the same information about Oratorian priests that it would about diocesan priests. A confusion of this type occurred in the diocese of Manchester, NH, where the diocese disclosed the names of 73 priests accused of abuse, but did not include the community of Legion priests who lived and worked at a private Catholic school in the diocese, because those priests answered to their superiors in the Legionaires of Christ, and not to the bishop. Many NH residents assumed that the list disclosed by the diocese included all priests who lived and worked in that diocese, but it did not. (The Legion later disclosed its own list, but this, too was not comprehensive.)

 

Financial opacity

The project’s stated goal is to raise $22 million to “build the St. Joseph oratory and more.”

Although the fund drive has already raised nearly $40,000, it does not include any information about the proposed oratory, other than that it will be dedicated to St. Joseph and will be “fashioned to reflect the great Cathedrals you find in the beautiful villages across Italy.”  The “statement of intent” form for donors simply says “I/We understand that my contribution will used [sic] for Advancement Expenses.” 

“This is a brand new mission and much depends on raising money to make it possible like any good mission. So there are things that we just don’t know,” said Lisa Wheeler, one of the co-founders of the project. 

Kari Beckman, founder of Veritatis Splendor, is also the co-founder of Regina Caeli Academy with her husband Rich Beckman. The donation form for Veritatis Splendor asks that checks be made payable to “Regina Caeli Academy for Veritatis Splendor” at Regina Caeli Academy’s address in Roswell, Georgia. Veritatis Splendor is listed on its site as “a division of Regina Caeli, Inc.” 

According to Wandra, the governing board of Veritatis Splendor is the board of Regina Caeli, Inc.  According to RCA’s website, board members are: Rich Beckman, Fr. Peter Idler, Daniel Saegaert, Fr. Augustine Tran, James Faber, Jim Graham, Frank Scarchilli, and Fr. John Paul Walker. 

In 2016, Regina Caeli Inc. (RCA), Rich Beckman, Fr. Peter Idler, Daniel Saegaert, Fr. Augustine Tran, as well as Steven Konsin, Norbert Maduzia, and Joshua Allen were sued by former members. The suit alleges that RCA defamed a whistleblower who threatened to expose RCA’s alleged fraud, tax violations, and violations of the Fair Labor Standard Act, and that they allegedly fired his wife in retaliation.

Regina Caeli is a homeschool hybrid tutoring program in which paying members homeschool their children for three days a week, using a standardized curriculum, and the school provides support and access to tutors and extracurricular activities. Parents who are also tutors receive a discount on the entire program, and all members are expected to fundraise and to recruit new members, in addition to paying tuition. Tuition, which covers two classroom days (for which uniforms are required), ranges from $2,800 per PreK student for a half day to $4,500 per high school student. 

Many members describe Regina Caeli as the best of both worlds, and praise the supportive, close-knit community and structure it provides. But according to the two former members who sued Regina Caeli, Inc. and its board members in 2016, it’s “run like a cult.”

John and Marie Kruse of Michigan alleged that their family of eight children was kicked out of the program shortly before Christmas after John Kruse threatened to expose Regina Caeli’s alleged financial irregularities. 

The suit alleged that, when John Kruse asked to review financial information so he could determine how the school was spending the money their group raised and solicited, the director responded that “it was not RCA’s ‘style’ to provide any financial information, other than the IRS form 990’s,” and then allegedly attacked Kruse’s motive for inquiring.

The suit alleges that, when John Kruse sent a letter threatening legal action if RCA did not provide more transparency, Marie Kruse was locked out of her tutor account so she could no longer work, and that the entire family was abruptly dismissed from the program. The suit alleges RCA threatened to sue John Kruse for communicating with other families in the program, damaging his reputation. 

The Kruses alleged that “complete, blind, unquestioning obedience to RCA’s officers and the Directors is demanded or the family is subjected to humiliation, ostracization and expulsion.”

The suit alleged the RCA was not in compliance with Michigan’s laws covering charities who solicit funds, and that it misled parents about whether their donations would be tax deductible. It also alleged that Marie Kruse invested significant time and money in an intensive “Master Tutor Certification” program, but was denied the alleged promised raise in pay and choice in tutoring assignments. 

The lawsuit was settled out of court.

I asked Wandra whether Veritatis Splendor will be more transparent than Regina Caeli in how it manages and allocates its funds, to avoid similar legal battles in the future. Wandra responded,

“Veritatis Splendor, as a project of Regina Caeli Inc., will be as transparent as a non-profit endeavor is required to be, and has done so explicably in all the ways expected.  Regina Caeli Inc. already files its Yearly 990, issues an Annual Report made available to the public on its website and follows all the requirements of the IRS and the guidelines of the 501 (c) 3 tax code.”

Regina Caeli’s most recent tax forms list their total assets in 2018 at $4.2 million, with $3.4 million in liabilities.

“Any parent who questioned RCA’s lack of proportionate financial support for the Detroit Program was harshly criticized by RCA staff and accused of attacking RCA and pressured to leave the program,” the Kruse suit alleged.

The lawsuit alleged that RCA claimed they ejected the Kruse family for their “effort to ‘create discord and disunity in the community.'”

RCA denied the allegations and threatened to countersue the Kruses for defamation before the suit was settled out of court.

“Regina Caeli Inc. was not sued for fundraising fraud,” Wandra clarified.  

 

Communication

When I called Veritatis Splendor co-founder Kari Beckman for comment, she declined to respond, but said that I should direct my questions to co-founder Lisa Wheeler at Carmel Communications, whose name and contact information are listed on the site’s case statement as the person to call for questions about Veritatis Splendor.

I told Beckman’s office that I had already left two voicemails for Wheeler and that she had not responded; but they said again that I should contact Wheeler. I then sent Wheeler, who is a Facebook friend, a private message via Facebook messenger. Receiving no response, I then wrote on Wheeler’s Facebook wall to ask her to check her messages and voicemail. She responded by denying that she had received any voicemails. She also denied that her name was on the Veritatis Splendor website, and denied that she was the point of contact for media inquiries. Wheeler also claimed that someone from Carmel Communications had already responded to the media inquiries I had submitted through the form on the site. (I had not received a response.) 

Wheeler told me, “no one is avoiding answering your questions,” and then furnished me with Kevin Wandra’s name and contact information, which do not appear on the Veritatis Splendor site. Then, about an hour after Wheeler’s response, I received a response from the site’s media inquiry form. 

Bishop Strickland declined to respond to questions either by phone or email.  When Wandra responded, he indicated that he had seen the questions I sent directly to the bishop’s office, and “in order to streamline things” Wandra took the initiative of adding a response quoting the bishop to one of those questions. When I asked if he was speaking for the bishop, since the bishop had clearly shared my email with him, he did not respond.

 

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Image with VS logo is a still from the promotional video embedded above. All other images are screenshots from the site, from the case statement, and from the fundraising site. 

EDIT 7:25 PM March 3: I stated: “It is common practice for priests to accept a voluntary stipend when they say Mass by request, and the typical amount is $5.” The correct amount of a typical stipend is $10.

The abortion lie that just won’t die

Emergency_room

image by Thierry Geoffroy via Wikimedia Commons 

 

It’s expensive to run a medical facility, and reasonably so, because when people’s lives are at stake, you should be willing to spend a little money. If you want to perform surgery, then you should be ready to perform surgery. If you think women’s lives are not worth an upgrade or two on your facility,  then maybe you’re in the wrong business.

Read the rest at the Register.