Our Sunday Visitor, which dubs itself "the largest English language Catholic publisher in the world," is refusing to do business with Church Militant.
After having placed an ad with the Catholic Establishment media outfit in the past without incident, Church Militant was in the midst of ongoing discussion to place a Mother's Day ad in an upcoming publication.
"I would be happy to work with you on a proposal that best meets your needs for your apostolate," read the email from Our Sunday Visitor's (OSV) advertising account executive in a message dated March 27.
Church Militant responded confirming reservation of a 4x4 inch ad for the May 14 Mother's Day issue. The ad would have combined a Mother's Day promotional along with information on our upcoming Rome pilgrimage in October.
Without having seen the ad, the executive sent a follow-up email Wednesday rejecting the reservation without explanation:
Thank you for your effort during the past couple of days.
Unfortunately, I need to inform you that Our Sunday Visitor is not able to accept your ad.
Thank you for your response to the offer I sent you, and I hope we might be able to work together in the future.
A phone call to the executive revealed that he'd been ordered by "higher-ups" not to do business with Church Militant. "I'm not at liberty to reveal the reasons why," he told the development department. "I've only been here for three months."
Founded in the early 1900s, Our Sunday Visitor has been a fixture in the Catholic Establishment media world for 100 years, and serves "millions of Catholics globally."
It also prides itself on being "the largest manufacturer of church offering envelopes in the world." According to its website, "We print several hundred million offering envelopes a year. We have resources to help parishes and dioceses launch websites, capital campaigns, and stewardship programs."
Its bread and butter is obtained through contracting with dioceses and parishes worldwide to supply diocesan publication needs, and as a result it's crucial — just as with all Catholic Establishment media outfits — to maintain good relations with dioceses — which requires remaining in the good graces of the bishops of those dioceses.
The latest tax Form 990 for OSV, a 501(c)3 non-profit, shows that OSV makes around $60 million per year, with annual expenses averaging $56 million.
In fact, 10 individuals at OSV make six-figure salaries totaling more than $2 million, with the top two highest paid being Kyle Hamilton, president of the hugely lucrative department overseeing offertory envelopes, making nearly $400,000 in 2014; and Greg Erlandson, president of OSV for 16 years, making $252,593.
In 2016, Erlandson went on to head another fixture in the Catholic Establishment media world — Catholic News Service (CNS), run by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, tasked with publishing news on behalf of the bishops and under their direction and management.
Catholic News Service was embroiled in controversy last year when its director and editor-in-chief, Tony Spence, published two pro-LGBT tweets. After Catholics complained, the USCCB fired Spence.
"The far right blogsphere and their troops started coming after me again and it was too much for the USCCB," Spence told the National Catholic Reporter about his dismissal.
Erlandson's hiring was announced by CNS July 20, 2016.
A total of 10 individuals at the non-profit OSV make six-figure salaries, including Linda L. Teeters, Treasurer and Vice President of Finance, with $224,806; and Elizabeth McNamara, General Manager of Curriculum, who made $179,098 in 2014. (The top nine salaries are public record and can be viewed here.)
OSV gave away nearly $500,000 to 16 dioceses in 2014, indicating an especially good relationship with multiple dioceses and bishops. Although records of business contracts aren't available, OSV's boast that it's "the largest manufacturer of church offering envelopes in the world" indicates it contracts with dioceses worldwide to supply offertory envelopes for all of its parishes.
From a purely business standpoint, it's not in OSV's interest to upset the Catholic bishops and jeopardize its lucrative contracts with dioceses. The media outfit is, essentially, beholden to the bishops, to remain in their good graces in order to maintain the profitable business relationships it has with them around the world, which is crucial to bringing in their yearly $60 million in revenue, and the $2 million in salaries for the front office crowd.
Church Militant is not shackled to the bishops. This independent news organization is free to report on the scandals of corrupt, faithless or negligent shepherds — and indeed, we often do.
Although it remains unclear who among the "higher-ups" ordered the account executive to decline Church Militant's ad, there's little doubt the decision was motivated by concern that Church Militant's presence — even in so inoffensive a thing as a small Mother's Day ad — might upset some bishops, potentially upsetting profitable arrangements with their dioceses.