This past weekend at the parish where I help out we had a visiting priest make an appeal for a development organization, Cross International. It raised some red flags:
- To Catholic audiences, Cross International presents itself as a Catholic ministry. The term “Catholic Outreach” is all over their literature complete with pictures of the pope, religious sisters, priests and bishop. But, I suspect that “Catholic Outreach” does not refer to Catholics reaching out to the poor as it may appear, but refers to that organization’s outreach to Catholics to fund their ministries. On the phone, once I had identified myself as a Catholic priest, the spokeswoman claimed that the organization was founded by Catholic lay people some 8 years ago.
- Their website indicates that they are a ministry of the Kielar Family Foundation. Some further research online revealed that the organization is, in fact, a Baptist organization. See this web link: http://www.crosstv.com/crossint.htm and then click on the “Statement of Faith” link.
- The priest who came to our parish told me that this organization had permission to not take a second collection but have the people put money in the envelopes to send in directly with their addresses and phone numbers and email addresses or give them to him on their way out of mass. Upon dropping him off at the airport, a great wad of cash and envelopes spilled from his pocket, which gave me the impression that there was no accountability for what he had collected—though this is only an impression. Still, without a second collection to be counted by the parish, there is no system of accountability. And, envelopes filled out by parishioners leave them vulnerable to multiple future appeals. Later, I learned that the Diocese has a strict policy requiring a second collection for each appeal so that the money can be counted and sent to the organization by the Diocese, not the parish.
- While here, the visiting priest said that there are eight full time staff at Cross International making calls to parishes to allow appeals and 50 priests on call to make the parish visits. Other priests in my area have told me they are regularly hounded by aggressive phone calls from Cross International to permit an appeal in their parish. [It should be noted that dioceses across the country require parishes to take one mission appeal from a Catholic missionary organization each year. And, each organization is given one parish appeal per diocese per year. Cross International defeats this system by calling pastors directly and pressuring them to take an additional appeal. So, while legitimate Catholic missionary organizations are strictly limited in their appeals to one parish per diocese per year, Cross International is canvassing parishes throughout the country at will. Clearly, fairness is at issue here, as well.]
Later, when I called Cross International to confront them with all these inconsistencies, they admitted that they were two organizations in one–that is, one organization with one logo with two faces. Cross International is the Protestant (though they claimed not to be Baptist despite their own literature) side and Cross International Catholic Outreach is the “Catholic side.” But, this essential fact does not appear anywhere in their literature. And no list of the ministries they support is to be found anywhere in their printed literature. The second spokeswoman claimed that Protestant funds go to Protestant ministries and that Catholic funds go to Catholic ministries–but again, nothing in their literature admits to this division of funds or ministries, so accountability for their funding is impossible. Furthermore, she said that any checks made out to simply “Cross International” would go to the Protestant side, nevermind that our visiting priest routinely called the organization just that.
Apparently, their appeals around the country are quite successful, having distributed over $90 million in the past year to Protestant ministries and over $58 million to Catholic ministries. Note that these are two separate and parallel websites neither of which link to or acknowledge each other.
Note that $57 million of the $58 million on the Catholic side goes to just one beneficiary. If there is a primary beneficiary, why is it not highlighted in some fashion elsewhere on the site? What is MOPS anyway? Why does MOPS have multiple entries but one by itself is so huge? I am no expert in any way on these matters, but they raise real questions in my mind.
And, if Cross International was founded by lay Catholics, why is the Protestant side so much bigger?
Is accountability and transparency too much to ask for? I have no basis for saying that funds do not go where they are said to go, but these questionable business and church practices make me wonder…
[…] How not to Raise Funds in the Catholic Church Other priests in my area have told me they are regularly hounded by aggressive phone calls from Cross International to permit an appeal in their parish. Dioceses across the country require parishes to take one mission appeal from a … […]
Let us be clear. Cross Catholic Outreach is a Catholic relief organization with a great reputation.
Cross International is a Protestant organization.
Let us not confuse the two.
Let us be clear Thomas Schroder.
Cross Catholic Outreach and Cross International are basically ONE AND THE SAME. Cross seeks to DECEIVE and MISLEAD donors by making them appear to be two organizations, legally. In practice, they are not.
I worked there three years. I know.
Cross does NOT have a “great reputation.” It has a terrible one. It engages in fraud, misrepresentation, and deceit. When I confronted colleagues on this they got angry and initiated a COVER UP.
I am confused about this. This morning we had a visiting priest from Cross Catholic Outreach, filing in for our vacationing pastor. He collected funds, and distributed brochures (with donation envelopes) from Cross Catholic Outreach.
I took the brochure home; checked them out using Charity Navigator; which said they are “not currently scored”, apparently because they haven’t provided the needed information.
So I googled the group, which I how I got to this, your website with your damning report.
But, searching for “cross catholic” gave entirely different results than for “cross international”.
You can look at crossinternational.org. But after that, click on
https://crosscatholic.org/about-us/our-team/. Under the header “Leadership” you get names and pictures of 6 officials of the organization– then under “Board of Directors” you see the same for 7 Catholic bishops, including Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco! AND then, under “Patron”: our cardinal archbishop of Washington, DC, Cardinal Wilton Gregory! (We are in that archdiocese)
If ALL of those clerics are being scammed, our Catholic hierarchy is even more dysfunctional than I had thought!
PLEASE, investigate further.
With most of these scams, the “patrons” and “board members” they list don’t even know they’ve been put on a list. I can guarantee you that Cardinal Wilton Gregory (who is virulently attacked by the right-wingers (Cross’ base) for being “liberal” and “socialist”) would never offer his recommendation or endorsement.
The exception would be Cordileone, who is well-known as a right-wing zealot: forbidding altar girls and adult female readers and Eucharistic ministers, etc.
What is never told to the faithful is that in every diocese in the country, groups like Cross pay a “cut” to the diocese: sometimes up to 50% of all monies collected.
MOPS stands for Missionaries of the Poor Sisters. I think it’s legit.
Father I do think of course we should be wary. ANd you raise legit question. But their Catholic side does look impressive as well as someof the priest they have on staff
Looks are extremely deceiving. Cross is NOT impressive and performance, and commits FRAUD and DISHONESTY.
Charles, thanks for the MOPS explanation. I am more than glad if this is legitimate. There is simply a need to be fully transparent and accountable when raising funds.
JH, I am glad that you find the Catholic site impressive. I am still scratching my head.
Charles, I just looked into MOPS in the Philippines. I could not find such a group. There is the MOP, Missionaries of the Poor–they are religious brothers numbering about 5000 working around the world. Perhaps they are the mystery MOPS beneficiary. I am wondering still how one organization gets 57 million bucks in one year from a single funding source. Is the MOP the MOPS? I will look into it more.
Red Flag Alert seconded!!! MOPS is the acronym for an evangelical group of moms with toddlers (Mothers Of Pre-Schoolers). There may be a Catholic group with the same acronym for all I know. But the only MOPS I’ve ever heard of was the evangelical group.
I heard about them via the Focus on the Family radio broadcasts more than 10 years ago. They seem like a pretty innocuos group. I mean, I’m sure they’re fine. But they’re definitely not Catholic.
BTW, Faher J–you are needed at Eirenikon to defend the Catholic view of marriage more accurately, authoritatively, and charitably than I can. :-)
Sorry for typos, BTW. Should be “innocuous” and “Father.” I have a very sticky keyboard. (Yes, I know–a poor workperson always blames his or her tools. ;))
MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) is a non-denominational Christian support group for mothers of young children. I am a lifelong Catholic and MOPS member; there are indeed Catholic parishes who have MOPS ministries. The MOPS Statement of Faith (their mission statement) is in no way conflicting with our Catholic teachings.
The officially constituted and incorporated MOPS program in the U.S. is definitely protest-ant fundamentalist. There are “Mothers of Pre-Schoolers” programs in many Roman Catholic Churches, but they do not run the corporate MOPS program: which churches must pay for and pay on-going licensing fees.
How are the pastors now being paid?
From love offerings or the tithe?
People who accept any portion of the tithe are not allowed to own any tangible property, such as a home, real estate.. according to the Bible too
Perhaps my post of a reply was entirely too long… see my reply here, PLEASE!
Yep, think it was because my 3:02am post just posted… Please see my full response at http://kingspug.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/4/
Basically, I researched it and it panned out. The 50 million donation was from the General Fund, not from any restricted fund, and it went to Missionaries of the Poor – Sisters in the Philippines. Please! see my post for the relevant information. Cross Catholic is a great organization!
No it’s not “great”, brother. I used to work there and it is a TRAVESTY. Dishonest, lying, thieving, cheating.
I was taking a look at some of the 990’s filed and noticed that around 90% of their income is in the form of non-cash, mainly medical supplies. While the organization spends only a small percentage of total contributions for fundraising and administrative purpose, they are spending most of the cash they bring in for those purposes. There’s no indication who donates the medical supplies, but surely not in parish collections. I’d expect most of the goods donated are put to good use, it just seems as though the cash collections are mainly to pay for fundraising and administrative expenses.
Considering that the non-cash contributions make up the majority of their support, is much of the fundraising expense related to having those goods donated, or mainly to raise cash. The 2007 990 shows among the top five paid employees is Msgr. Ted Bertagni, who was paid $114,905 salary for 40 hrs.per week ($124k in 2008). Another “preacher” is Fr. Ron Mrozinski, who was paid only $89,145 for his 40 hours. Jim Cavnar was one of three officers paid over $100,000. According to the organization’s website, Msgr. Bertagni “was a Conventual Franciscan in Our Lady of Consolation Province and is presently incardinated into the Diocese of Mandeville Jamaica.” Fr. Ron ” is a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saint Georges in the Caribbean island nation of Grenada.” Jim Cavnar only puts in an additional 4 hours for Cross International and so gets paid less than $14,000 by them.
I looked at their 2009 Form 990. It shows 159792173 in contributions. It shows 149155508 paid out as grants, etc (this would appear to be its charitable work), If your worried about where it goes just make a donation for a specific purpose. Their legally required to put it toward that purpose unless it is overfunded
I am donating to this cross international catholic outreach every month to one of their project in the philippines.
When i asked them to provide me with the address of the organization in the philippines who are supposed to be receiving my project
so I can visit the place to make sure that my donation is reaching a valid organization whose children are disabled, they said that they do not have address or phone number but they can give me their e mail.
Today, I e mail the organization using the e mail that the director of cross international catholic outreach gave me, but the e mail is invalid.
I think, this cross international catholic outreach is not a true charitable organization.
I will not send them donation anymore.
I just feel sad that this organization takes advantage of people who are kind enough to care and help other disadvantaged people who are really in need of help.
Please take that information back to them and post here what they respond. I’m rather curious.
Carlos Andrickson III who works at Cross International is from Dominican Republic. He is also actively involved in politics in Dominican Republic, supporting Danilo Medina. During his business trips, expenses covered by Cross International, he spends most of his time on his personal interest in politics.
He is no longer employed at Cross International
This IS some serious stuff. I am sure they have their made up excuses, everything planned and covered up.
That Carlos Andrickson III guy looks like he killing 2 birds with 1 stone. Getting popular in politics with charity money, donations.
A Good Christian
I would recommend a background checkoff these preachers.
I found your page while researching Cross Catholic Outreach. My family is looking for to replace Catholic Relief Services on our list of charities to support.
So, to the writer of this post, did you contact any of the bishops listed in their Board of Directors? If you did, how did they respond?
Did you look at the latest audited financial statements (2011) which clearly show that (page 8) “Cross Catholic Outreach Inc & Cross International Inc … together … for The Cross Internation Alliance”?
I’m not accepting that anything you’ve posted is wrong or not worthy of further investigation. I’m just asking if you, or any of the commentors to your post, have gone beyond Google, innuendo, and the use of hostile language (“when I confronted them”).
And for the record … I am not connected in any way with CCO, CI, or its auditors. I am a retired financial executive with experience in auditing and financial research. I am also a cradle Catholic with experience in parish finance council, adult and youth catechesis, and charitable activities (e.g. St Vincent de Paul). I am a third order member of an ancient religious order.
And by the way, my family stopped supporting Catholic Near East Welfare Association (which you list under “Mass Intentions” on this web page) because of the unreasonable amount it spent on administration-fund raising.
Finally … just who are YOU? I can’t tell a thing about your identity or credentials in your “About Us” or “Contact Us” pages. If we are going to present analysis–negative or positive–about anyone or any group, decency should compel us to do so with accuracy and charity, especially if we are calling ourselves Catholic Christians.
Dear Mr. Vaca, I would love to have you on the general team of Catholic Researchers who fact-check everything! Here is the website I maintain – http://www.johntwo24-25.net. Feel free to contact me on the feedback page. There is much work to be done. My sleeves have only been rolled up for about 4 years, but I’m doing my best with what I have. Blessings.
Why would you want to stop giving to Catholic Relief Services, one of the most effective and thoroughly Catholic organizations around?
I know this post is old, but felt I should comment. I write marketing materials for both Cross Catholic Outreach (formerly known as Cross International Catholic Outreach) and Cross International. I’m off the clock right now, so this is not a defense.
First of all, your questions and concerns are understandable and deserve a response, and I think many of those answers have already been provided in the comment thread.
No, Cross is not a Baptist organization. First, there was simply Cross International, which was interdenominational. Then Cross Catholic was created, with the specific purpose of helping Catholics reach out to Catholic ministries in the third world. We are very up-front about this fact, and many of the CI staff are also involved in CCO. As you can imagine, the type of people who work here are those who believe Catholics and Protestants share a lot of common ground and can work together as brothers. If you do not share that belief, you will probably not be comfortable with our arrangement, The similar names can be confusing, and that is why I was very glad when we decided to change CICO to CCO.
As for our priests’ accountability, that is not something I am qualified to speak to. I hope they are honest and upright in their work with the parishes, but I cannot personally verify this one way or the other.
I do wish to clarify one point. Someone mentioned our low administrative costs and how we achieve that number by including the value of goods-in-kind. Yes, this is true that good-in-kind are included. But I don’t want to give the impression that this is somehow underhanded. The goods-in-kind are donations, therefore it is both legal and reasonable to include their value. Thus, if we were to calculate monetary donations alone, the percentage going toward admin costs would be much higher. When you give to a specific project, 10% goes toward the admin costs (this is the estimate of what it costs us to support one project). That is still on the low side as far as charitable admin costs. However, if you give to the general fund, the percentage will likely be larger that 10%.
Now, I would hope (though I do not know for a fact) that our priests understand and communicate these facts whenever the need arises. If a Cross Catholic representative were to tell a donor that 97% of his or her specific gift goes directly to the overseas ministry, that would be false. But as a percentage of our overall donations, yes it is absolutely true that admin costs are very, very low.
Lyric, why is the CCO address in Boca Raton and the CI address in Pompano Beach?
CCO is located in Boca because it operates under the oversight of the Diocese of Palm Beach County. However, our larger CI office is based in Pompano for the simple reason (as I understand it) that we were given a really good deal on office space to rent.
Can someone tell me .Does Cross Catholic Outreach operate from an office in Wilton, New Hampshire?
We do not have a New Hampshire office. We are based in South Florida. However, there are a number of employees who live in different states. Perhaps one lives in New Hampshire?
And Ive been sending my donation in new hampshire?,,I dont want to think bad in this ministry but seems off to me Ive been donating for a year now.
Who have you been sending your donation to? If you are giving to our outreach priests when they visit your parish, you have nothing to worry about. All those gifts are sent back to us. If you are mailing your gifts to a New Hampshire address claiming to be our headquarters, then you may have been misled. Unfortunately, I can’t say for certain one way or the other unless you give me more specifics.
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We had a guest priest (Fr Ron Mrozinski) for our Masses this weekend. We were told and the brochure indicates that less than 6% of donations are used for administrative and fundraising expenses. There was no mention that if goods-in-kind donations were not included, the % of monetary donations going to administrative/fundraising expenses would be significantly higher. The brochure for mailing donations was addressed to Cross Catholic Outreach, PO Box 9558, Wilton, NH 03086-9909 but the Bocca Raton FL address and box # was noted on the inside of the brochure. If accurate, the salaries of the paid staff concerns me. The figures given were for 2007. I have to wonder what the current salaries might be. Trying to keep an open mind but after trying to verify information about the organization I’m left with a sense of unease.
Yes, Fr. Mrozinski has been with us for a long time. I just now realized that Wilton, NH, must be where the company is based that processes all of our mail. Whenever I’ve donated, it has always been at the office or online, so I never noticed the Wilton address. But I just looked at one of our recent direct-mail pieces, and yes the address on the return envelope is Wilton.
I apologize for not providing this answer sooner, but as a writer in the communications department, I know more about how we are spending our money on projects overseas than the details of how we process donations here in the U.S.
How/where does one find audited financial statements for 2011 and 2012 for this organization? I was very touched by Fr Mroziinski’s presentaion regarding this ministry but need more information. Just seems like salaries are on the high side.
You can read our 2011 annual report (which includes audited financials) at http://220.127.116.11/uploads/AnnualReport_CCO_2011.pdf
I am currently working with our accounting dept. to produce our 2012 annual report, which should be available in a month or so.
I appreciate your concern about salaries. Obviously when someone is asking you for money, you want to feel confident that it’s being spent wisely. What I can tell you is that, yes, Cross is very good to its employees. I earn an average salary for a college-educated full-time employee, but it comes with an excellent health-care package and other perks (not necessarily quantifiable) that make this one of the best places to work that I’ve ever experienced. I also know that, yes, we have some employees who earn salaries that would be considered on the high end.
I’m not in a position to judge what is appropriate or inappropriate. However, I think I should mention that there was a study published in the Palm Beach Post last year that found that our president, Jim Cavnar, earned a smaller paycheck relative to revenue than any other nonprofit executive in our local county. Jim is certainly well-compensated, but he’s not some greedy rich guy living the high life. For example, he jokes that he is in a contest for the cheapest car in the office parking lot – and I can attest that it truly is a junker! Granted, the “revenue” that his salary is being compared against includes both money and donated goods (as I explained earlier); and I understand why some donors might be concerned by this, although it is a very legal and very normal practice among U.S. nonprofits.
This is an outdated article that addressed concerns from the 5 years or more when it was authored. However, this article should be deleted and/or updated.
In the meantime, since 2008 we’ve all learned what a flawed outfit CRS (Catholic Relief Services ) is. It takes a large chunk of U.S. Govt money (our taxes) and redistributes it to orgs. that are anti-life, pro-abortion and then tries to lie to us Catholics about it. Frankly CRS needs to get out of the Govt redistribution business. More and more Catholics are distancing themselves from CRS.
In the meantime, CCO(Catholic Cross Outreach, or its name variant) has matured , gives money to Catholic ministries, Catholic orgs, and Catholic workers serving the poorest of the poor in underdeveloped or 3rd world countries. IN addition, CCO* has earned a very good reputation in the Catholic community and should be the Catholic charity of choice over CRS.
RB, you’re making some serious accusations there, and no real evidence to back it up. If you want people to take your post as anything more than just your opinion, post the smoking gun.
left a reply; reply back and I’ll post links
Mr Anonymous with no moniker, where have you been hiding yourself. Did you crawl out of a cave?
I just love it (*not) when someone is not too lazy to type two sentences but then tells the rest of the world(that would be me) to do some work for them. All the things I wrote are common knowledge within the Catholic Blogosphere and can be googled, if you have enough creativity and can handle the google part.
RB – why the antagonism? anonymous was asking a valid question with no sarcasm or implied insult. your vitriol is not only surprising and unwarranted, but undermines the credibility of your previous post. This has been a thoughtful and courteous discussion between people who want to responsibly donate and ask the necessary questions of accountability to do so. Helping each other by sharing our sources is not an unreasonable request. Cautioning you to sight your sources is just the habit of an academic mind – not a criticism.
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this piece of writing.
lyric makes a lot of excuses to only know a few things about his employer
(Lyric here, posting under a different WordPress name) Excuses? Hardly. I’m just being honest about my limitations. If you’ve ever worked in an office setting that involves multiple departments and multiple executives, you know that you can only specialize in your area of responsibilities…you can’t know the details of absolutely everything that everyone in every other department is doing. I work in marketing, not accounting. I don’t handle our ministry’s donations. I never even see the money. But I do know our projects. I’ve traveled around the world gathering stories in order to show our donors how their funds are being used by our Catholic partners who rely on our support. Most of these partners are local parishes or religious orders.
Not said in all of this…. and the reason why this effort has protest-ant evangelical roots and is based in Florida… right-wing elements of the Roman Catholic Church (EWTN, et al) have been trying to destroy Catholic Charities for the last 20 years due to their supposedly liberal bias. The people at Cross were willing to go along with the charade, and could be counted on to maintain right-wing ideologies in their giving and programs.
Starting with the prominently featured Cardinal Sarah, note that all of the Episcopal endorsers are basically tea-baggers in cassocks. I was personally offended that they use a quote from Holy Father Francis on their web-site when Sarah and his cronies have done everything possible to undermine the Holy Father and what he is attempting to do. But also note who prominently Popes JPII and BeniieXVI are fetured in the Cross web-site.
Thanks for that. You made me laugh. Cardinal Sarah is one of the holiest clerics alive today. I think you need to read his books. All comes down to whether or not you follow God or you follow the world. Those who follow the world have great disdain for those who follow Christ. Sheep and goats, if you don’t know which one you are, you are in trouble.
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Update: A few Christian organizations have been exposed recently. For example, “Gospel for Asia” just admitted its guilt by agreeing to a $37m settle. Cross is next. It is a textbook case of lying, deceit, dishonesty, fraud, and mispresentation. Lyric (above) simply doesn’t know what s/he is talking about. S/he just works in the “Communication Dept” which is charged with making up misleading stories to fool donors. Don’t believe a single word said by “Lyric”, or by Cross for that matter.
Again, I worked there for 3 years, and saw all of this with my own eyes. Don’t give a penny to these thieves.
Check out their two FB pages. EXACTLY the same except for the words “Catholic Outreach” vs. “International.” Every other word in the cover pages and many others is identical.
I personally have no problem with protestants and Catholics working together to serve the poor. I DO, however, have a BIG problem with deliberate deceit and subterfuge.
I think you need to provide some proof regarding your employment with them. Maybe post a check stub or something legit to show that you are even who you say you are. Dave Larson is pretty anonymous.
I just went and checked their FB pages. No, they are nothing alike. Nothing identical at all. I am going to have to surmise that you are someone who is just hating on a Catholic organization with nothing to back it up. Your words have proven to be false.
Do you have any video of that? I’d love to find out more details.|
Seems possible that people are able to look over the difference of faith in order to work together for the greater good, but respectively work independently, which is why there’s no connection to one another on either website since they’re likely drawing funds from their own communities.
People should probably not hand loose bills instead of using the given envelopes and documenting their contributions, which allow for more accountability and let’s not mention is bulky and hard to contain if you don’t have your own resources (traveling to cities and town with minimal supples). ANYONE could steal. A member of your own parish could swipe an envelope. That feels like an unfair suspicion to imply of anyone using their time to help anyone in need; even if it’s asking for charity, from “charitable” people.
The tone of your writing fees like you were personally inflicted or wronged. If only you used your sharp wisdom and gift of writing to uplift and support and showcase others in need or trying to help those in need, other than Cross Outreach if you wanted.
With respect, you are either wonderfully naive, or someone with a financial interest in the various Cross enterprises (scams). If you were Roman Catholic, you would understand why people take offense at organizations like this. You would also understand that this is not a question of “differences.”
The chasm that separates the protest-ant fundamentalist and Catholic faces of the church of Jesus Christ is profound (and is getting ever wider as the various protest-ant fundamentalist sects degenerate into Christian nationalism).
This post is a big lie!! This organization is legitimate. The other organization with a similar name MAY be what you’re referring to in this post, but NOT Cross Catholic Outreach.