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BARCELONA, Catalonia (ChurchMilitant.com) - A top Catholic publisher embroiled in a pro-vaccine "fact-checking" operation is insisting its consortium did not receive funding from far-left propagandist George Soros, despite evidence that its partner Verificat is heavily funded by Soros' charities.
Our Sunday Visitor, notorious for paying fat-cat salaries to its senior executives, published an editorial Tuesday attacking a Church Militant exposé for making "wild" and "absolutely false" claims that the George Soros' Open Society Foundations had funded the consortium.
Verificat's (registration number 65912) own balance sheets, however, confirm that the Catalonia-based "fact-checker" received 21,741.99 euros in 2019 and 52,892.65 euros in 2020 from Open Society Foundations.
The so-called fact-checker, which has no medical expertise and was set up in 2019 to verify information about the Barcelona mayoral elections, claimed 20,579.60 euros for 2019 in supplies and operating expenses — depending almost entirely on the grant awarded to it by Soros.
Verificat also received a grant of 20,007.52 euros from the International Fact-Checking Network (Poynter Institute) and YouTube in 2020.
IFCN's website records that it has received major funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Google, Facebook and Open Society Foundations since 2015.
A Church Militant investigation in early January revealed that a Catholic fact-checking operation, headed by Catholic media giant Aleteia together with a consortium of 30 establishment Catholic media outfits, was being bankrolled by Google, Bill Gates and George Soros.
"Aleteia, I.Media and Verificat will work with a scientific committee and two research centers to source misinformation and create a database of related fact-checks (available in seven languages) for Catholic media outlets around the world," Google News Lab reported.
The Catholic fact-checking cabal named OSV as one of the "media partners" in its consortium. A peer-reviewed journal paper titled "Spanish Fact-Checking Services: An Approach to Their Business Models" also listed Open Society Foundations as Verificat's main funder.
Ironically, without naming Church Militant or Verificat in its editorial, OSV's editors insisted that neither the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation nor the Open Society Foundations were "asked to donate a single penny to the efforts of the consortium, and neither did so."
The editorial also alluded to veteran journalist Philip Lawler's column on the funding of Catholicfactchecking.com by Google, Soros and Bill Gates. It criticized reporters "who have taken it upon themselves to decide that Catholic fact-checking ... is not what the world needs."
The editorial did not name Lawler, the editor of Catholic World News and author of 10 books (including the recent Contagious Faith: Why the Church Must Spread Hope, Not Fear in a Pandemic).
Earlier, Lawler's column, "Just What We Don't Need: Catholic 'Fact-Checkers'," lamented the "noisome" phenomenon of "fact-checking," in which "self-appointed watchdogs claim to have refuted a statement when, in fact, they have merely offered another opinion."
But, writing to subscribers threatening to cancel subscriptions to OSV, publisher Scott P. Richert noted, "I'm saddened to hear that you and your family will no longer read Our Sunday Visitor." He also addressed both Lawler and Church Militant.
Lawler "repeats claims made by Church Militant that simply aren't true," Richert added, in correspondence obtained by this apostolate.
In comments to Church Militant, Lawler stated:
If Scott Richert can point to any statements in my piece that "simply aren't true," I would be grateful for the correction. I believe that I presented the facts accurately. Aleteia and OSV — both institutions which I have had very friendly relations [with] — have joined with some very questionable allies in a cause that I consider wholly misguided, if not dangerous.
In his email, Richert accused Church Militant of proving itself "at best, gravely misinformed and, at worst, willing to engage in calumny and the willful spreading of misinformation through guilt by association."
"Church Militant might just as well claim that I have entered into a nefarious alliance with both Apple and Microsoft because I am writing this email to you in Microsoft Outlook on a MacBook Air," Richert added.
Our Sunday Visitor's tax filings from 2019 reveal that the top 10 executives were paid $2.25 million in annual salaries between them, led by CEO Kyle Hamilton at $365,438, account executive product leader Joan Lewis at $341,236 and president of publishing Joseph B. Wikert at $227,815.
Last month, an OSV editorial insisted that the "COVID-19 vaccine is a gift that is saving lives" and, despite fierce dissent from some eminent Catholic ethicists and medical scientists, maintained that the jabs are "medically and morally approved."
Michael Voris, founder and president of Church Militant, blasted OSV as "a hired gun, paid to ride roughshod over any scientific evidence and, in that vein, any theological claim against the efficacy or morality of the so-called vaccine."
They also conveniently ignore the myriad side effects and deaths that have landed at its door. They never touch on the corrupt sweetheart deals that Pfizer and company hammered out with a corrupt U.S. government that says anyone harmed by the "vaccine" cannot go after the manufacturers for damages.
Voris also remarked on the "fact-checking" consortium's silence on two secret meetings between Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla and Pope Francis in 2021, asking, "Why the silence, guys?"
In 2012, the Vatican chose OSV to be the exclusive distributor of the North American–English edition of L'Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper. The publisher will also provide order fulfillment, customer service and marketing support for the newspaper.
Church Militant contacted publisher Scott Richert for comment but did not receive a response. Instead, Richert wrote on his Facebook page, "I genuinely hate responding to unscrupulous liars because they often want nothing more than to provoke a response. But sometimes it's necessary to set the record straight."
When commentor Eric Obermeyer challenged Richert's Facebook post with evidence showing Verificat's funding from Soros, the publisher responded, "The activities of Verificat funded by other organizations are separate from their activities in the consortium."
"It's kind of like saying someone is only patronizing the services of Planned Parenthood that aren't funded by abortions," Obermeyer shot back.
Faithful Catholics had earlier slammed OSV for running an advertisement for the heretical Association of United States Catholic Priests in the April 2020 issue of one of its flagship journals, The Priest.
The pro-LGBTQ+ AUSCP defies Church teaching and has officially called for women's ordination to the priesthood. In contrast, OSV denied advertising space to Church Militant for a Mother's Day ad that also promoted a forthcoming pilgrimage to Rome.
While leftists describe Soros as a bogeyman for the political Right, former Australian senator and pundit Cory Bernardi points to "a slightly darker path" about the hedge fund tycoon. "Soros and the Open Society Foundations' billions look to be a one-way flow of leftist funding. There is scarcely a left-wing cause he doesn't have his financial fingerprints on."
Soros-funded organizations support abortion; the LGBTQ+ agenda; open borders and unrestricted Islamic immigration into Europe; Antifa; globalist government; the climate change movement and the Marxist Black Lives Matter movement. In 2016, Soros helped fund the effort to legalize abortion in Catholic Ireland.