“All the Men Behind the Opus Dei Curtain”
By Randy Engel
"You can fool all of the people some of the time,
and some of the people all the time, but you
cannot fool all the people all the time."
Introduction President Lincoln may or may not have uttered these words, but what is clear from E. Michael Jones’ book The Man Behind the Curtain – Michael Voris and the Homosexual Vortex is that the author didn’t believe them. Jones thought he could, indeed, fool all his readers all the time. And he almost succeeded. Jones never mentions the words “Opus Dei” in his book on Michael Voris, nor does he identify any of the main characters as members or cooperators of Opus Dei, although he puts the two words in the mouth of Christine Niles, Editor-in-Chief of ChurchMilitantTV (CMTV) on one occasion when she denies that Voris has been funded or influenced by any outside group. The truth is that every one of the main characters in Jones’ book – Voris, Father Paul Nicholson, Marc Brammer, and the author himself – is tied to Opus Dei in a concrete way and that the Jones’ tale is really a story of an Opus Dei media venture gone wrong. Why the long delay in writing this exposé? After all, nearly a year has gone by since the e-book and magazine publication of The Man Behind the Curtain appeared in the late summer and fall of 2016. Unfortunately, I was mid-way through my investigation of the late Father Anthony Cipolla sex abuse case at the time and couldn’t begin any new project until the New Year. So, by the time you read my story, the dust has pretty much settled on the matter. The public battle has ended and both combatants have gone back to their respective corners, taken off their gloves and left the ring – Voris to Church Militant.com in Ferndale, Michigan and Jones to his Fidelity Press/ Culture Wars home office in South Bend, IN.However, as it so often turns out, the delay has worked out to my advantage. It has given me time to reread and study Jones’ uncharacteristically sloppy and disjointed missive; to exam the many public pro and con reviews of the book; and to conduct my own investigation of the tragedy. I trust my findings will help fill in many of the calculated as well as unintentional information gaps left by Jones in his rush to get his book to the Amazon marketplace. In addition to Gary Michael Voris and Eugene Michael Jones, this article highlights the role of four other key players in the controversial affair – Marc Brammer, Frank Coan, Father Paul E. Nicholson, and Terry Carroll as well as a sundry of incidental actors in The Man Behind the Curtain. Finally, this article shines the spotlight on what can best be described as an unseen entity that binds this tragic tale together – that of the Prelature of Opus Dei. A Rocky Introduction to RealCatholicTV.com For the record, while this writer has never subscribed to either RealCatholicTV.com (RCTV) or its successor, ChurchMilitantTV (CMTV) due to time limits and economics, over the years many subscribers have been kind enough to forward various segments to me for my comments. I generally try to oblige, as I certainly will try to do for readers of this column. The fireworks between RCTV and this writer began on March 25, 2010, with a special edition of the network's flagship show, The Vortex in which Senior Executive Producer Michael Voris provided an accurate litany of the many woes besieging the post-conciliar Church, but an inaccurate solution to meeting the crisis. He gave a ringing endorsement to Opus Dei as the entity which will save the Church. He used the term “holy intransigence,” a favorite expression of Father Josemaría Escrivá, founder of Opus Dei, and one rarely heard outside of Opus Dei circles. Yet Voris claimed he was not a member of Opus Dei and he got “nothing from anyone in any shape or form or manner to promote this group.” Four days later, on March 29, 2010, I circulated a strong rebuttal to Voris’ promotion of Opus Dei by noting that the money-power cult is part of the problem, not part of the solution to the current crisis in the Church. I also challenged Voris to dedicate a segment of The Vortex to explaining why Opus Dei Bishop Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano of the Diocese of Ciudad del Este in Paraguay, who died in August 2015, was harboring the notorious clerical pederast, Father Carlos Urrutigoity, founder of the formally suppressed U.S.-based, Society of St. John. The e-mail gained international circulation. Shortly after the e-mail reached RCTV, Simon Rafe, Senior Platform Administrator, issued a strong response stating: “Obviously, individuals like Randy can be safely ignored as they are heretics and schismatics in open rejection of the Church…” Since the poor chap did not know me from a hole in the wall, I presume some worm tongue had whispered sweet nothings in his ear. To his credit, Rafe later apologized and retracted his charges, but added, “We do, however, stand by our support and endorsement of Opus Dei. We consider your identification of them as a “cult” to be rude, objectionable and slanderous towards a group recognized by and endorsed personally by the Holy Father.” His reference to “we” indicated to me that Voris continued his public support of Opus Dei. From Rafe’s short e-mail and his lengthy full page e-mails to other Catholic critics of Opus Dei who had contacted RealCatholicTV.com, it was clear that Voris and Company stood four-square behind the Prelature. For my part, I accepted Rafe’s apology and the Opus Dei matter was closed.Voris on Homosexuals as Victim SoulsThe next salvo came on September 24, 2010, when Voris featured a program on “Victim Souls” with the subheading, “Homosexual persons ARE different, but in one way many people might not have thought about very much.”I reviewed the program and wrote a critical evaluation of Voris’ erroneous theories. “The homosexual is indeed ‘different,’” I wrote, “and that difference applies not only to his deviant choice of sexual objects, but to his heavily metastasized personality which is marked by neurotic, masochistic tendencies that are manifested in an array of phobias, obsessions and other sexual and emotional aberrations. …” Looking back, this singular sentence contains as much information on the maldevelopment of the active homosexual as Jones’ repetitive references to the traits attributed to Voris in The Man Behind the Curtain.My five-page response also included a summary of the Roman Catholic Church’s unofficial teaching on “victim souls,” that is, those souls especially chosen by God to imitate Our Lord’s Passion in a unique way, and who by their voluntary sufferings, trials and sacrifices make amends for sinners and their ingratitude in order that they, the sinners, can receive God’s mercy. This time no one from Voris’ staff responded, but the bizarre reference to homosexuals as victim souls was never raised again. The one thing I do recall quite clearly about this particular presentation was that it appeared to be almost autobiographical in nature. It was my first clue that Voris had had some homosexual experience in his past. Voris Promotes and Defends Opus DeiOn March 4, 2011, the issue of Opus Dei was reopened in connection with Marc Brammer, then (and still) the domain name owner, and one of the owners of the for-profit RCTV who contracted with Voris and his St. Michael’s Media – a non-profit entity, and Concept Communication, LLC – a for-profit entity, to produce the internet video content for RCTV.Some additional background on Brammer might prove helpful at this time. Brammer graduated from the Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame University in South Bend in 1974 with a BA in Economics and a Masters in Finance and Financial Management Services. From Human Resources Director for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, he went on to a very successful business career with Investment Trust, Inc. From 2000 to 2012 he served as Senior Director of Business Development for Moody’s Analytics in Manhattan. He became a founder and CEO of iCARE Analytics LLC, and Business Development Director for Progeny Software LLC (merged with Ambry Genetics in 2015). Both firms are involved in the genetics aspect of health care. He is also currently the Chief Business Development Officer for Axon Advisors LLC, a medical research enterprise based in New York, founded and headed by his daughter, Emily Brammer.In short, Marc Brammer is a very successful and wealthy entrepreneur and astute businessman.Getting back to Voris, I sent him an e-mail asking him to confirm that Brammer is a member of Opus Dei and, as such, I asked if Brammer had any influence, direct or indirect, on the programs and policies of RCTV programing and Voris’ public endorsement of the Prelature on his March 25, 2010, Vortex show. Voris replied the very next day, March 5, 2011, and he was not, by any means, a happy camper. “… your constant invective and muckraking approach to our apostolate is loathsome, bordering on calumny,” he said. He condemned the alleged “bee in my bonnet about Opus Dei,” and suggested I stop by a confessional… to seek pardon for my “slander.” Personally, I was neither surprised nor offended by Voris’ seemingly over-the-top reaction to a simple query remembering the prayer of Saint Thomas More in the Tower of London in the year of Our Lord, 1534, that instructs us to love our enemies as they can never do one such good with their love and favor as they do with their malice and hatred. In any case, Voris confirmed what I knew to be a fact, that Marc Brammer was a member of Opus Dei. But he assured me that Brammer had “ABSOLUTELY NO influence whatsoever on program policies.” Voris added that he came to know about Opus Dei from reading John L. Allen, Jr.’sbook Opus Dei: An Objective Look Behind the Myths and Reality of the Most Controversial Force in the Catholic Church, which is favorable to Opus Dei, and from talking to Opus Dei members including Brammer. He reminded me that the founder of Opus Dei, Josemaría Escriváwas a canonized saint. He offered no criticism of Opus Dei.Before closing, Voris gave me his studio phone number, and thanked me for the good work I do for the Church. Like the Rafe confrontation, this incident was quickly forgotten. Voris and Brammer – Good Cop/Bad CopOn the same day, March 5, 2011, this writer received a very cordial e-mail from Marc Brammer who stated that he was indeed “a supernumerary” of Opus Dei, lived in South Bend and worked for Moody’s Analytics. He said he provided the seed capital [$250,000.00] to launch RCTV in 2008 and “remain [sic] attached to the venture as a personal hobby.” He insisted that neither Opus Dei or its members ever exercised any control over his business ventures. Then he added an unexpected comment:For the record, I do have other media collaborations which I am equally excited about…one in particular with E. Michael Jones of Cultural Wars who lives here in South Bend and has been a friend for 30 years. I still remain a board member of his not-for-profit firm. He and I are planning a joint venture with the release of his book on Capitalism later this year which we intend to augment with radio program. It has the potential of being a game changer especially to try to articulate the need for the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in the U.S. to separate itself from the control and influence of political and governmental structures that have high jacked the interpretation of the fundamental truths entrusted to the Church. Jones and I have equal distaste for neo-cons across both the Democratic and Republican parties. Both have equally bad characters in them especially regarding anything pro-life.I am interested in the success of both media adventures…with RCTV to highlight evil forces within and outside the Church… and with E. Michael Jones to highlight evil forces within the secular culture that can look to Church tradition for better guidance including just wages and just prices.Brammer said he’d be happy to chat more about the “Capitalism” launch, but I never took him up on his offer. It wasn’t until I read Jones’ book that I recalled Brammer’s 2011 e-mail concerning his long friendship with Jones, which the latter never bothered to mention in his book.A Second Clash with Voris Over Opus DeiIn the spring and summer of 2011, The Vortex targeted the National Office of the Knights of Columbus for its failure to publicly confront the political ranks of the Anti-Life Establishment within the Knights itself and its failure to dismiss the Knights who cast the deciding votes leading to the passage of the “gay marriage” law in New York in 2011. None of this bad news was new news to me as the founder and National Director of the U.S. Coalition for Life (USCL), an international research agency specializing in exposing the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) anti-life programs and policies. On July 23, 2011, I sent Voris (cc Brammer) a short e-mail complimenting them on their exposé of the lack of Knights leadership in the battles for life, marriage and family. I also asked why, in his criticism of Carl A. Anderson, who took over the reign of Supreme Knight Virgil C. Dechant in 2000, did Voris fail to mention that Anderson was a member of Opus Dei. I mentioned that I knew Carl very well in his early years as a young lawyer when the USCL collaborated with him on prolife legislation originating from the office of Senator Jesse Helms of NC. Anderson worked there as a Legislative Assistant from 1976 to 1981. “He was prolife back then, so what happened?” I asked. Lastly, I mentioned I had lost track of Carl when he moved with Opus Dei Supernumerary Russell Shaw into the Knights’ public relations/public policy office in Washington, D.C. in 1987. Brammer replied on the same day. He said he knew that Shaw was a member of the Work, but he’d have to check with Murray Hill to find out about Anderson. As usual he was cordial. Two days later, on July 23, 2011, Brammer informed me that the national office said Anderson is not Opus Dei. Later, he suggested I “park the OD stuff,” because if I become so “consumed with OD stuff… you will have no energy to help us and then you become irrelevant just like our culture… Come on Randy… be a Catholic warrior with us… with me…with Jones…with Voris…we are not OD thugs!” Interesting, isn’t it, how Brammer hangs himself together with Jones and Voris?I asked Brammer to put his statement in writing on Opus Dei stationary, send me a copy, and then we’d talk. I believe that was our last communication. It has happened in the past, that the Prelature has taken steps to reduce important numeraries or supernumeraries to the state of cooperators, who are not technically “members” of Opus Dei, to avoid them being openly identified as Opus Dei members. Is this the case with Carl Anderson? Perhaps Opus Dei will enlighten us. In the meantime, let’s examine a partial resume on Carl Anderson, today considered one of the most influential Catholics in the world, linking him to Opus Dei’s vast network of apostolates and associations inside and outside the Vatican (Note: some of the Vatican offices have been reorganized):
Indeed, Carl Anderson is the epitome of the inscripti, male members of Opus Dei chosen by God and the Prelature, the two being one and the same, for greatness and advancement.As we move on to examine the relationship between Opus Dei, Brammer and Jones, perhaps the reader might ask himself how it is possible for Anderson to have achieved such a meteoric rise to the pinnacle of international fame, fortune and power in Vatican circles solely on his own merit without the assistance of a powerful backer like Opus Dei. For the record, over the years, fences were mended with Voris and on September 20, 2013, I appeared on Church Militant to discuss my book The Rite of Sodomy and the homosexual colonization of the Catholic hierarchy, diocesan priesthood and religious orders. The interview remains on line. We have maintained contact since then and our relationship has remained friendly. The Anatomy of the Opus Dei /Jones/Brammer RelationshipTwo of the questions which have been repeatedly asked by readers of The Man Behind the Curtain are, first, why did Jones write his book on Voris and secondly, what was the exact nature of Jones’ relationship with the key players in the affair, specifically with Marc Brammer and Father Paul Nicholson, Voris’ “tell-all” spiritual director. The following quote was taken from thehirschfiles.blogspot.com of October 8, 2016:
- During the Reagan Administration, Anderson served in various positions of the Executive Office of the President as the liaison between Opus Dei, who was financing Poland’s Solidarity Movement, Pope John Paul II and the White House.
- In 1987, Anderson joined Opus Dei supernumerary Russell Shaw in managing the Knights of Columbus policy office in Washington, D.C. in 1987.
- Anderson is member of the five-man Supervisory Council of the Vatican Bank (IOR).
- Anderson is a Visiting Professor of Family Law at the Rome session of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family and founding Vice President and first Dean of the Institute in Washington, DC. (Russell Shaw also on staff).
- Anderson and his wife Dorian, are both members of the Pontifical Council for the Family
- Anderson is a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life and the Pontifical Council for the Laity
- Anderson is a consultant to the Pontifical Council for Communications
- Anderson is a consultant to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
- Anderson served as a lay auditor to the World Synods of Bishops in 2001,2005, 2008,2012
- Anderson is a New York Times best-selling author and promoter of Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body which is also promoted by Opus Dei
- On April 7, 2011, at Faneuil Hall in Boston, Anderson delivered the Boston Leadership Forum address on President John F. Kennedy titled “Making God’s Work Our Own.” The Forum is dedicated to the Second Vatican Council, John Paul II and Opus Dei founder Escrivá.
- Anderson has been awarded the Gold Palm of the Equestrian Order of The Holy Sepulchre and made a Knight of St. Gregory the Great, and a Knight of the Grand Cross of St. Sylvester.
I wrote the book first of all to explain what really happened. Secondly, I wrote it to clarify the theological point that everyone was missing in the discussion. The dominant culture’s downplaying of the true magnitude of this sin combined with Catholics ignoring the Church’s teaching on penance and adopting the Protestant notion of cheap grace made his story incomprehensible. I’d like to propose two other reasons why Jones decided to write the book and use Fidelity Press as the publishing vehicle.First, because his friend and benefactor of more than thirty years, Opus Dei supernumerary Marc Brammer, asked him to and secondly, because E. Michael Jones’s publishing enterprise is an Opus Dei apostolate/auxiliary society.As an added incentive, perhaps Brammer offered Jones a deal he couldn’t resist, possibly some kind of media vehicle for Jones along the same lines of RealCatholicTV. After all, we know from Brammer’s March 5, 2011, e-mail to me that general plans for such a joint media venture had been in the works at least six years prior to the Voris scandal. Also, in October 2011, Brammer appeared on a Catholic radio show out of San Diego and discussed his intention of hiring Jones for a role in his newly-formed corporation, the Institute for New Media.Let’s examine Jones’ Ultramontane Associates, and then review again Brammer’s March 5, 2011, unsolicited comments to me on his relationship with Jones, to see if we can shed some additional light on the subject. Ultramontane Associates, Inc. Indiana Jones’ non-profit entity, Ultramontane Associates, Inc, was incorporated on April 11, 1984. The Incorporator Designate and Registered Agent is South Bend Attorney Richard B. Urda Jr. In April 1985, the IRS recognized the entity as a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt, tax-deductible public charity organized to operate exclusively for charitable, educational, literary and religious purposes. Its National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities (NTEE) Classification is - Roman Catholic Religious Organizations (X22), 509(a) (2).The Mission Statement of Ultramontane Associates is: “To disseminate educational commentary on family and social issues based on the moral law and Catholic social teaching. We distribute material in print and electronic form. We also occasionally conduct conferences, workshops, and speaking and travel tours for educational purposes.” Its principal office located at 206 Marquette Avenue, South Bend, IN, is also the Jones’ residence.The members of the first Board of Directors were E. Michael Jones (President and Editor of Fidelity Magazine/later Culture Wars) his wife, Ruth P. Jones (Secretary and Business Manager), and South Bend, Notre Dame alumnus, Attorney David Halpin, who died in March 2015.Although the 1984 Articles of Incorporation provide for up 15 directors, there has never been more than three principals (voting members) – Jones, his wife, and one other. When Halpin left, his place was taken by Opus Dei supernumerary, Marc Brammer, who is listed as the Vice President of Ultramontane Associates on both state and federal 1990 forms for 2011 through 2015 and for every year I have 990 returns, going back to at least 1993. Why didn’t Jones mention that Brammer was vice-president of Jones’ apostolate? Under what IRS ruling did Ultramontane Associates qualify for “public charity” status? (9) An organization that normally receives: (1) more than 33 1/3 % of its support from contributions, membership fees, and gross receipts from activities related to its exempt functions - subject to certain exceptions, and (2) no more than 33 1/3 % of its support from gross investment income and unrelated business taxable income (less section 511 tax) from businesses acquired by the organization after June 30, 1975.This particular IRS reference caught my eye because every IRS Opus Dei member-owned corporation 990 return I have reviewed for this study cited the same section of the code.Was that a coincidence? Read on. The 2015 990-EZ Form indicates that the corporation took in $69,335 in contributions and $127,851 in program services plus a small amount in investment income for a total revenue of just over $197,186. For the period 2007 to 2015, Jones took in more than a million dollars in direct financial contributions. This does not include money from his publishing business. How does a small-time publisher generate such a large amount of money? Who’s the money power behind Jones’ operation? And what “services” does Jones provide for his benefactors in return for their financial backing? The 990 forms do not provide the names of Jones’ big contributors who have made it possible for Jones to run his public charity and full-time publishing business out of his residence lo these many years. Expenses for 2015 totaled $225,668. The deficit was $28, 036. The largest expense was the printing cost of Fidelity Press/Culture Wars; the second largest expense being salaries for Jones ($52,000) and his wife, Ruth ($36,000). VP Marc Brammer receives no compensation. Interestingly, there is nothing in Culture Wars magazine to indicate Ultramontane Associates, Inc. is a public charity. Further, as a public charity, Ultramontane Associates gave out zero grants and zero donations for every year I have 990 Forms up to 2015. It appears that Jones is his own charity. In this, he is simply following the admonition of Escriváthat “Our apostolate is the apostolate of ‘non-giving.’” The Founder believed that the traditional Corporal Works of Mercy is the primary task of religious orders and Opus Dei rejects that label, although Opus Dei does operate a handful of showcase projects such as primary schools, health and educational centers, technical and business schools, and women’s domestic training centers – a primary source of maids and servants to care for Opus Dei residences and centers – which are scattered throughout large U.S. urban areas and around the world, mainly in Latin and South America. Lastly, Form 990 Part VI Line 8b for 2011 and 2012 helps answer another important question in the Voris/Jones affair. It tells us who runs the show at Ultramontane Associates – “The governing body is small and therefore has no committees and makes all decisions together.” Thus, we can be reasonably sure that the decision to print and publish The Man Behind the Curtain in 2016 was made “together” by Michael and Ruth Jones, and Marc Brammer. Brammer’s History as an Opus Dei SupernumeraryConsidering Brammer’s known association with Opus Dei, it appears odd that Jones never mentions that fact in The Man Behind the Curtain. Instead, he has Christine Niles denying that there is an anti-Traditionalist hidden hand operating at CMTV. “There is no secret donor, no one bankrolling the apostolate, no rich Opus Dei member pulling the strings (the idea is laughable). …Michael Voris calls his own shots, and makes his own decisions – based on the good of the Church and of souls.” Since there appears to be an obvious difference of opinion as to the role played by Opus Dei in the Jones/Voris affair, let’s have a go at arguing in the affirmative using Brammer as the model for our study. However, since a basic knowledge of Opus Dei is necessary to understanding the extraordinary nature and scope of Brammer’s life-long commitment to the Prelature, I have included this short primer on Opus Dei for the reader. Opus Dei as a World-wide Diocese “Opus Dei” translates into “Work of God.” This is a loaded phrase which would take an eternity to unpack. I will simply say at this opening juncture that I do not believe this to be true, indeed I think just the opposite, and leave it at that. However, members of Opus Dei do believe that God was the founder of Opus Dei and Escrivá was His messenger. They believe that to do the Work is to do God’s Will. To criticize the Work is to criticize God. To abandon the Work is to abandon God and suffer eternal damnation. The governing body of Opus Dei is hierarchical and male. Supreme power resides in the office of the Prelate/President-General, the “Father,” who is chosen for life. The election of the Prelate must be approved by the pope. The Prelate’s second in command is the Vicar General. A General Council made up of members of the Sacerdotal Society of the Holy Cross and a Central Advisory made up of Opus Dei female members, assist the Prelate in the pastoral government of the Prelature. However, one should not conclude from this description that women play any decision-making role in the governance of the Prelature – they do not.Individual Opus Dei residences/study centers are administered by an Opus Dei Director who acts under the supervision of a Regional Commission. All governing entities are subject to the Opus Dei central government in Rome.There are about 3,000 members of Opus Dei in the United States and 84,000 world-wide. These figures are reported from Opus Dei’s public relations office. How accurate they are we do not know as membership in Opus Dei “admits no external manifestation” and the “number of members is kept hidden from outsiders.” Let’s begin with Opus Dei priests and work our way down. In its own words, “The Institute named Priestly Society of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei, abbreviated “Opus Dei,” is an Institute for Christian perfection of the secular world consecrated to the acquisition and exercise of apostolates. The name Opus Dei refers to the entire Institute in which exists, however, a group of members whose name is the “Priestly [Sacerdotal ] Society of the Holy Cross,” which comprises the incardinated priests of the Institute and some laymen who, in the Father’s judgment, are particularly disposed to becoming priests in future.” Opus Dei priests are hand-picked only from the Prelature’s pool of its own lay male numeraries. They have already been carefully monitored for years at their Opus Dei residences before they are informed that God has called them to the priesthood. Rarely is the Opus Dei invitation refused. The Sedes Sapientiae International Ecclesiastical College or Seminary was established in Rome on January 9, 1991, for the formation of Opus Dei candidates for Holy Orders. The seminarians study at Opus Dei’s Pontifical University of the Holy Cross which is within walking distance from the seminary.Opus Dei priests receive Holy Orders so that they may serve the Prelature and minister to the needs of its members and potential members. After ordination, they usually reside in an Opus Dei residence or facility, so in a sense, they remain close to the life they led as an Opus Dei lay numerary. Generally, Opus Dei priests continue to have lay numerary spiritual directors. Many priests in Opus Dei have an advanced degree in canon law. Hence the quip – “The Dominicans gave the Church theologians; the Jesuits and Franciscans gave the Church missionaries; and Opus Dei has given the Church lawyers!” (My apologies to all my non-Opus Dei canon lawyer friends). The Opus Dei Prelature is technically speaking a clerical structure. Opus Dei priests are incardinated into the Prelature, but laymen are associated by agreements. Even though it is through laymen that Opus Dei apostolates are financed and carried out; the power in Opus Dei, juridically speaking, resides in its priests.And while Opus Dei is often identified as being “traditional,” the priests incardinated in the Prelature and the priests of the Priestly Society say the Novus Ordo Mass. However, some priests, out of their own devotion, may make use of the privilege of saying the traditional Latin Mass at times. Please note that the infamous Canadian priest, Fr. Paul Nicholson, Voris’ anonymous spiritual advisor in The Man Behind the Curtain, by some queer canonical machination, is not really an Opus Dei priest, he has never been incardinated as an Opus Dei Priest, nor is he a member of the “faithful of Opus Dei,” but he is a member of the Sacerdotal Society of the Holy Cross, which is “intrinsically” connected to Opus Dei. The Structure and Lay Apostolates of Opus Dei One does not “join” Opus Dei. One must be “invited.” Having achieved the minimum age of 18, one must petition the Prelature for membership; be vetted by Opus Dei Directors to insure the applicant has received “a divine calling” to the “vocation” of Opus Dei; and sign a written contract to carry out the Work – for LIFE. The rule regarding the age requirement, however, is often circumvented as Opus Dei uses the confessional, camps, Capstone programs, Father & Son Clubs and C.S. Lewis Narnia Clubs, and women’s hospitality and domestic training service, to recruit young teens, and then tells them to keep their commitment to Opus Dei secret from parents and friends until they reach the age of consent or beyond. Although Opus Dei states “we are constructed for the multitude,” it recruits primarily from “the class which is called intellectual, either by the precept that they are outstanding or by reason of gifts they exercise, or by reason of dignity which is marked – is the guide for civil society.” (sic)Opus Dei is by studied design and statute, a secret society. While the Prelature publishes the names of all its priests and international and regional directors, lay members of Opus Dei are forbidden to reveal their membership in the Prelature unless they have the explicit approval of the Center Director. Marc Brammer is an exception to the rule. He is part of the “public face” of the Prelature and has been designated as such by the Director of the center to which he has been assigned. All members of his “cell” wear a “public face.” The ostensible purpose of secrecy, aka, “discretion,” aka “prudent silence,” concerning membership in Opus Dei is to permit its members to live a “hidden life in society” like Jesus did in Nazareth before He began His public ministry; to permit the Prelature to act efficiently; and to act as the leaven in the mass of human society. The real reasons are: to better infiltrate society and its institutions; to better acquire and exercise one’s apostolate with minimum opposition; to permit recruitment of potential candidates without prejudice; and to fend off possible opposition from parents of potential members and other sources. Also, to be kept secret, are the internal working documents of the Prelature, its customs, spirit, ceremonies, and methods of apostolate, including methods of recruitment. However, this demand for secrecy is no longer tenable since many of these heretofore secret documents governing the Prelature have been beautifully translated into the vernacular and are online at a new website titled “The Opus Dei Guidebook, ” at https://sites.google.com/a/realcatholiconline.org/the-opus-dei-guidebook/statutes-1. These documents include the publicly available 1983 Code of Canon Law references which defines the Prelature and its relationship with the laity and the bishops; Ut Sit, the November 28, 1982 Apostolic Constitution which erected Opus Dei as the first a Personal Prelature of the Catholic Church; the 1950 Constitutions which includes Opus Dei’s governing documents with statutes that are still in force, but not found in the 1982 revised statutes; and the 1982 statutes which revised the 1950 Constitution but did not replace them. I would also recommend a night or two of study at the Opus Dei Awareness Network (ODAN), http://www.odan.org/. Opus Dei Lay Membership At the top of the Opus Dei lay register are the numeraries, male and female. Unlike traditional religious orders where the candidate makes public vows, is recognized and accepted by the Church, and is cared for by the order for life, the numerary is contractually bound to the Prelature by a simple agreement or promise, but is also required to make private, personal vows of celibacy, poverty and obedience before two witnesses. As far as responsibility goes, the Prelature has no legal or canonical obligations toward the numerary. Thus, when a numerary, who has served Opus Dei for much of his adult life, decides to leave the Prelature, he leaves with next to nothing in terms of money, health insurance, references, etc.When a numerary pledges his life to Opus Dei, he leaves his “natural” family behind in favor of his new “supernatural” family. Permission of the Director is needed for the numerary to contact a member of his own family. They must, at some point in their secular careers possess or acquire academic degrees with preference given to legal, business, medical, financial, teaching, and engineering degrees. However, should a conflict between one’s career and the Opus Dei apostolate arise, the apostolate takes precedence. Their salaries are turned over to Opus Dei in return for a monthly stipend and well-tailored clothing, health coverage, etc. College students turn over their grants and monies from their parents to the Prelature. Where possible, numeraries try to donate as much of their salaries to Opus Dei’s non-profit apostolates to obtain the maximum tax deductions. Once a month the numerary must turn over an exact receipt/expense sheet down to the last stamp purchased to the Director of the center. Their mail, including newspapers and magazines, are vetted coming and going. Surveillance of and reporting on the activities of the numerary, in and out of the residence, is a notable feature of a numerary’s existence. An Opus Dei physician tends to their physical ailments and an Opus Dei psychiatrist tends to their mental and emotional problems. They lead a tightly regimented spiritual life as laid out in the Plan of Life which includes regular daily, weekly, monthly and yearly religious duties as well as the self-infliction of corporal punishment. They need to be socially and personably attractive and free from any physical or cosmetic impediment. A Joseph (John) Merrick will never be found in their ranks. As you can see, Opus Dei numeraries are not just a bunch of “ordinary Joes” as Opus Dei would have us believe.Numeraries represent about 20% of the lay membership of Opus Dei we are told. Many hold important U.S. and international government positions as well as important posts at the Vatican. Next in line are oblates or associate members who are also celibate, but generally live and work outside an official Opus Dei residence for personal, professional, or familial reasons. Like numeraries, they must devote their lives to the Work.Numerary assistants/auxiliaries are young, unmarried women who act as maids and servants and do manual work for Opus Dei residences and conference centers. They are often foreign- born young women from Mexico or Spain who come from impoverished families, and are recruited and trained at a young age, some as young as fourteen. Lifelong celibacy is required of them. Their wages are low and money is taken out for their room and board at a female Opus Dei center. These young women are never to be left alone. When they leave an Opus Dei center, usually in groups of two, they must be accompanied by a female numerary.Many of these girls and women are trained at the Lexington Center, Inc. in Chicago. The center states it also provides “educational seminars and classes and opportunities for spiritual growth.”Supernumeraries, like Marc Brammer, make up the largest Opus Dei grouping. They represent 70% of Opus Dei’ formal membership and are the financial backbone of the Prelature. They may be single, or married, male or female. They hold secular jobs and earn a substantial income and often have generous-size families. These large families serve as a potential source of new recruits and income for the Prelature. The supernumerary contributes a goodly portion of his income and time to the Work. It is said to be in the 10% plus range. He follows a regular prayer schedule and a Plan of Life which gives discipline and structure to his existence. He has a lay “spiritual director,” who acts as his superior and with whom he meets usually once a week, and goes to confession to an Opus Dei priest only. He attends regular meetings, conferences, retreats and days of recollection hosted by Opus Dei and is always “fishing” for suitable Opus Dei members. Despite their intense involvement in Opus Dei, supernumeraries usually are not fully informed of the high echelon inner-workings of the Prelature. Finally, we come to the category of cooperators of Opus Dei, who are not actually “members” of Opus Dei, but contribute money and engage in corporate apostolic activities to support and promote Opus Dei. Cooperators need not be Catholics. Indeed, they may be Protestants, Jews, Muslims, agnostics or atheists who are welcome to financially join the unofficial ranks of the Work. Known Freemasons and Communists are excluded. Interestingly, a cooperator can also be someone who would be a supernumerary under normal circumstances, but whose “apostolate” would be compromised if full membership were discovered. Hence, the title of cooperator can be a useful “front” designation when needed.Cooperators must be recommended by an Opus Dei member and be approved by the Prelature before being certified a “cooperator” of Opus Dei. However, only Catholic cooperators can obtain indulgences by fulfilling the conditions established by the Church and renewing, out of devotion, their desire to be Cooperators.Brammer’s Corporate Works The above description of supernumeraries like Marc Brammer, a father of eight children, reveals the large investment of time, money and energy the Prelature expects from family men, even one as busy as Brammer. It does not fully explain, however, the extent and nature of other aspects of the Work including the Corporate works of Opus Dei, as opposed to the Corporal Works of Mercy which the Church requires of every Catholic. These corporate works are difficult both to explain and to understand, but bear with me. A member of Opus Dei including a priest, associate priest, numerary, numerary assistant, or supernumerary can act individually or through the establishment of a corporate apostolate, to advance the Work in various fields of endeavor such as education, communications/media or economics. These entities are called “auxiliary societies.” But even when the funding for the project is provided solely by the individual member(s) and even though such entities are not technically owned by the Prelature, they are subject to the authority of Prelature. Such an individual may become merely a “front man” or “shell” or “public face” for what is, in reality, an Opus Dei operation. The following are apostolates/corporations set up by Brammer in his own name: Southold Center for Education, Inc. is an Opus Dei female residence located near the University of Notre Dame at 1432 South Bend Avenue in South Bend. The name, Southold may seem strange, unless one understands that Opus Dei, with rare exceptions, doesn’t give their corporate initiatives an identifiable Catholic name. Even its $47 million, 17 stories national office and conference center on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan with assets in the $50 million range, is called Murry Hill Place. Southold is a Non-profit domestic corporation created on September 25, 1995. It enjoys a tax exempt, tax deductible status. Although Southold is maintained for and organized around Opus Dei programs and spirituality, the name of Opus Dei does not appear in the Articles of Incorporation. Rather the document sets forth as its vague purpose “To obtain money or property by gift, bequest or devise and to invest…the income and principal … exclusively for educational, charitable, religious, scientific or literary purposes…” The Articles of Incorporation list Marc Brammer and Christopher J. Godfrey, a local attorney as the incorporators. It has no members. Brammer is listed as president in a 1997 state report and treasurer of the corporation in a more recent 2016 state report.Southold caters to women college undergraduates and professional women of all ages, and has summer camping programs for middle school girls. It has an Oratory where Mass is said by an Opus Dei priest.Southold’s spiritual retreats for women are grounded in Opus Dei doctrine and spirituality, and are coordinated through the Shellbourne Conference Center, a beautiful Opus Dei retreat house for laymen and diocesan priests situated on forty acres of forested land in Valparaiso, IN. Its assets are listed as just under $6 million, and its annual revenue at $1.8 million. Its 990 tax return form does not indicate any connection to Opus Dei. Greenstar Enterprises, Inc., created and maintained by Brammer, was incorporated as a for-profit entity on May 28, 2008. RealCatholicTV is the DBA for Greenstar Enterprises. The assumed name was filed on October 17, 2008. The Articles of Incorporation list Evon R. Vitale as the incorporator and Brammer and Vitale as the principals. Vitale’s address, 112 W. Jefferson Blvd. Ste. 503, South Bend, IN is the same address as Greenstar Enterprises. Voris, obviously never played a business role in RealCatholicTV. Jones makes that perfectly clear. Rather, Voris had a customer-vendor relationship with Brammer. However, Brammer did have an unnamed co-partner in the person of Frank Coan who appears for the first time in Chapter 6 of The Man Behind the Curtain. But Jones, as with so many characters in his book, never bothers to explains who Frank Coan is, and what his relationship is to Brammer. Let me do the honors.On his LinkedIn page, Frank Coan identifies himself as the co-founder of RealCatholicTV, but does not mention Marc Brammer by name as his financial teammate and close friend. Frank Coan is a partner at Coan & Ferguson, a managing consulting firm, and three other business enterprises all with the same address, 8374 Market Street, Lakewood Ranch, FL, in Manatee and Sarasota Counties. The address belongs to Coan. He is, more significantly, a Managing Member of iCare Analytics LLC on North Federal Highway in Boynton Beach, FL, a company Brammer created in 2013. The Registered Agent for the firm is Brammer’s son, Conrad Joseph Brammer, a Purdue University philosophy graduate and Chief Operating Officer for Progeny Genetics, LLC, a subsidiary of Ambry Genetics located in nearby Delray Beach, FL.Coan was also a financial partner in two other media adventures promoted by Brammer after RealCatholicTV was replaced by Church Militant in June 2012 – the Institute for New Media and Greenstar Productions, LLC. Institute for New Media, Inc. is a non-profit, public benefit corporation created by Brammer on February 17, 2012, in Indiana. This date is significant because it was the month that Father Nicholson, Voris’ Opus Dei spiritual director said he discovered Voris was a homosexual and was HIV positive. More on this point later. The Institute for New Media has three incorporators/ principals, Frank Coan, Marc Brammer (President), and his wife, Linda Brammer. The address on the document for Frank Coan is not Florida but the Brammer’s residence. Coan states that the Institute is an independent, non-partisan interdisciplinary research and development organization whose aim is to advance a general understanding of issues influencing our culture from a Catholic perspective through all forms of new media communications. In October 2011, five months before the incorporation of the Institute, Brammer appeared on a San Diego Catholic radio show hosted by Dennis O’Donovan, in which he laid out his plans for his new media think tank. Although the Brammer interview is no longer available online, it is my understanding that among areas he hoped would be explored were Capitalism and usury – two of Jones’ favorite themes. I believe he also announced he was interested in hiring Jones in connection with the Institute. Again, one wonders why Jones did not reveal any of this information in his book? Greenstar Productions LLC, a Florida domestic company was created by Marc Brammer on July 15, 2013. Its principal address is the same Florida address for iCare Analytics in Boynton Beach. Its mailing address is Brammer’s residence in South Bend. Listed as principals are Marc Brammer and, his wife Linda Brammer. Frank Coan is listed as the Registered Agent. The Articles of Organization state the purpose for which it was organized is “ANY AND ALL LAWFUL BUSINESS,” which doesn’t tell you a whole lot does it? Except, perhaps, that Brammer’s statement that RCTV was just a “personal hobby” turns out to be anything but a spontaneous singular financial fling. We will return to the specific question as to whether or not RCTV is an Opus Dei operation, but for now let’s leave Brammer and his multiple media apostates and check up on another key figure in the Jones story, Voris’ unnamed “spiritual advisor” turned accuser and carrier of lurid tales, who we know today to be Father Paul NicholsonRev. Paul E. Nicholson – A Gross Betrayer of Trust For me, the most revolting of all the characters introduced in The Man Behind the Curtain is Father Paul E. Nicholson., followed by writer and editor Jones who granted the wayward priest full rein in revealing the most sordid and intimate details of Voris’ homosexual life, details which by nature must have been made known to the priest during the Sacrament of Confession or during sessions of “spiritual direction” conducted by Nicholson. What kind of priest does this? We’ll get back to this matter shortly.Jones introduces the reader to the anonymous priest at the opening of Chapter 6. He states Voris met his “spiritual advisor” during the fall of 2010, although Nicholson was known to have been assisting Voris in scheduling his public appearances as early as 2009. Once again, Jones fails to identify the spiritual advisor as an associate priest of Opus Dei and a member of the Sacerdotal Society of the Holy Cross as well as a diocesan priest of the Diocese of London, Ontario, Canada. Fr. Nicholson’s Ordinary, Bishop Ronald P. Fabbro, permitted the priest to come to the States under the proviso that he refrained from any contact with Church Militant and Michael Voris. On July 1, 2013, Bishop Fabbro favored Nicholson with the office of “Missionary Preacher” as part of Pope Francis’ call for a New Evangelization. Via various media outlets including CMTV, videoed daily homilies, parish missions, and Catholic conferences in the U.S. and international events including World Youth Day in Madrid, Fr. Nicholson was quickly acquiring a “public face,” as Opus Dei would have it. Much of what we do know about Fr. Nicholson’s background doesn’t come from Jones, but from the priest’s short online autobiography. He was born in 1971 in rural Ontario, Canada; entered St. Peter’s Seminary in 1989, and was ordained to the diocesan priesthood in 1997. The priest was assigned to two parishes, St. Joseph’s which was canonically suppressed on July 9, 2006 and St. Mary of Perpetual Help which was likewise suppressed on June 24, 2007. Nicholson’s first introduction to Opus Dei was The Way, Escrivá’s spiritual handbook for laymen. Opus Dei established the Ullerston Center (now defunct) in Toronto in 1982. After his ordination, Nicholson joined Opus Dei as an associate priest meaning he was both a diocesan priest and a member of the Sacerdotal Society of the Holy Cross. But if he had to choose between them, it’s clear that he is as committed to the Work as supernumerary Brammer is. “I am convinced that Opus Dei represents a clear picture of official Catholicism,” says Nicholson. “… Opus Dei stands fully, entirely and completely with the Pope,” he explains, “and has brought such joy and meaning to my priesthood, that I can literally say; ‘a day within your courts are better than a thousand elsewhere.’” Fr. Nicholson’s devotion to Opus Dei, first and foremost, is important because it explains, in part, why the priest would naturally line up with Marc Brammer against Voris. A Word About True Catholic Spiritual Direction Returning to Fr. Nicholson’s very wicked exposé of Voris’ early homosexual life, it’s impossible to understand his actions as Voris’ anonymous “spiritual advisor” in The Man Behind the Curtain, unless we grasp the heterodox nature and purpose of spiritual direction in Opus Dei, from the perspective of their confessors and lay spiritual directors and directresses. Almost all Catholics who have received the Sacrament of Penance from a good confessor will have experienced spiritual direction in its most basic form as spiritual advice given prior to the imposition of a penance and absolution by the priest in the confessional. The Seal of Confession is often referred to in the Church as part of the internal forum. This in contrast to the external forum which consists of an individual’s outward observable actions and behaviors, that is, public knowledge. Although, technically speaking, private spiritual direction outside the confessional is not covered by the seal, most priests will regard it as part of the internal forum and act accordingly. To eliminate any possible confusion as to the exact nature of the conversation, a priest at the end of a counseling session may ask the individual if he wishes to make a confession, at which time the matters previously discussed would be briefly repeated and thus come under the seal. Not a few Catholics also have the great grace of having a pious and competent priest as a personal spiritual director – a priest in whom they can voluntarily confide, who understands the innermost workings of the soul God has put in his care, and who wills nothing but its sanctification. On the subject of spiritual direction, the reader may want to recall the December 17, 1890, decree of Pope Leo XIII, Quemadmodum, in which the Holy Father absolutely forbade the practice of the mandatory manifestation of conscience by superiors of religious orders including lay male and female members, and those who have taken either simple or solemn vows Opus Dei’s Abuse of Spiritual Direction I