Down in Tyler, Texas lives the single worst bishop in the United States: Joseph Strickland. He was first out of the gate to go for the jugular when the epic kook Archbishop Vigano hucked his “RESIGN” grenade at Pope Francis, who was the only Pope to actually act to get rid of the abusive Cardinal McCarrick. That, I think, is why Vigano attacked him: to cover the fact that he had done nothing while he was Nuncio to the US.
Hours after the Viganò dossier dropped, Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, in Texas, wrote to his diocese saying: “Let us be clear that they are still allegations but as your shepherd I find them to be credible.” He even ordered his priests to post his statement on parish websites and across social media.
He is likewise the noisiest bishop in the US to prattle about COVID conspiracy theories and give his blessing to anti-vax nuts.
He backed the rebellious kook priest Fr. James Altman, who spoke of lynching as “capital punishment” and suggested the Jews of Warsaw had it coming during the Holocaust.
Naturally, MAGA Catholics–having been so wrong about so much so many times for so long–glommed on to him as a Great Spiritual Leader sent to guide the Church and save it from Pope Francis. So they opened their pocket books wide when he promised to build a Real Catholic Utopia in Tyler.
That’s how it started.
Kari Beckman was going to build Veritatis Splendor, a village of Catholic “true believers” in the heart of Texas. Now, after acknowledging an illicit relationship, reportedly with Texas Right to Life head and Regina Caeli board member Jim Graham, she’s moved out of the property’s luxury ranch and back to Atlanta, and has stepped down as executive director of Regina Caeli Academy and Veritatis Splendor.
As for the village, one $3 million loan later, not a single structure has yet been built on the land, and the members of Regina Caeli across the nation are left wondering if their homeschool tuition fees and bake sale fundraising dollars paid for the grandiose Tyler, Texas project, or for any of Beckman’s other, more clandestine activities of the past year.
Beckman, who founded the homeschool hybrid Regina Caeli Academy in 2003, sent a letter to the members of Regina Caeli at the end of last week acknowledging “a terrible lapse in judgment with a personal relationship.” Multiple sources confirmed the relationship was with Jim Graham. Beckman and Graham are both married. Beckman said she immediately sought forgiveness through the sacrament of confession, and then, months later, confessed to her husband. She said that she and her husband then both went to the board of Regina Caeli and told them “what had occurred,” and then stepped down as Executive Director.
Shortly before she stepped down, the Board of Directors received an anonymous letter alleging Beckman had carried on an illicit sexual relationship with Graham. Graham was also, until recently, on the Board of Regina Caeli, but his name has recently been removed from that site, along with Kari Beckman’s name. Beckman’s husband remains listed as a board member. Three other board members are no longer listed on the site, and Nicole Juba has been named acting Executive Director.
Texas Right to Life is the organization that launched prolifewhistleblower.com, the tipline website that lets people report abortions in hopes of collecting a $10,000 bounty under the controversial new “Texas Heartbeat Act” (SB8), and Jim Graham has been instrumental in the Texas pro-life movement’s hard shift toward the right. The website has gone offline twice, and now redirects to the Texas Right to Life site, but does not currently function as a tipline. The law, which has undergone several legal challenges, has been unpopular even within some factions of the conservative pro-life community, some of whom view it as anything from distasteful to politically reckless to counter-productive.https://e6c552837d65659b1cbce79575dd097a.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
Graham, who appears in a fundraising video for Veritatis Splendor along with Beckman, has been Executive Director of Texas Right to Life, which was founded by his father, since 1994. Neither Graham nor the media representative for the Texas Right to Life returned phone calls seeking comment.
“This is two heads of very Catholic organizations. We literally do hold ourselves to a higher standard. And to be lectured about virtue while this was going on . . . unbelievable,” said one Regina Caeli Academy parent and former tutor. She asked not to be identified, for fear of reprisal.
The parent is referring to the fact that Regina Caeli and Veritatis Splendor, including in the very video in which Beckman and Graham both appear, both explicitly framed their organizations as a refuge from the immorality of the secular world. Parents flocked to Regina Caeli in part because it emphasizes the development of personal virtues and traditional values like chastity and self-control.
“The fact that my kids’ tuition was funding their affair,” the parent said, and then attached a “vomit” emoji to their message.
“We essentially bought them a ranch.”
But it’s not merely a matter of spiritual hypocrisy that distresses this and other Regina Caeli families. The anonymous letter-writer told us they also filed two complaints with the IRS on November 12 asking for an investigation of Beckman’s possible financial misuse of Regina Caeli funds. The complaints accused Regina Caeli of “using assets for personal gain” and “questionable fundraising practices.”
As one RCA parent put it, “We essentially bought them a ranch.”
But the alleged financial malfeasance goes deeper than that. The letter-writer alleged, “Mrs. Beckman uses Regina Caeli as her personal bank account” and that Beckman hand-selected the board to do her bidding, and deliberately hid her financial activities from the families who supplied the money she allegedly spent. Regina Caeli’s most recent tax forms list their total assets in 2018 at $4.2 million, with $3.4 million in liabilities.
The letter to the IRS enumerates four major complaints involving Regina Caeli Academy and Veritatis Splendor:https://e6c552837d65659b1cbce79575dd097a.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
-That Regina Caeli Academy employees were pulled from their RCA jobs to launch and raise funds for Veritatis Splendor;
-that RCA borrowed over $3 million from an RCA board member to finance the property for Veritatis Splendor;
-that the RCA board approved the purchase of a $45,000 Chevy Tahoe for Veritatis Splendor, and has been paying for its insurance, even though the vehicle does not serve Regina Caeli in any way;
-and that the property, purchased by RCA, contains a luxury lodge in which the Beckman family has been living for many months.
The complaint says:
“Fundraising at Regina Caeli was of the utmost importance. Families were required to fundraise in a variety of ways, and were always told that this fundraising was to support the education and mission of Regina Caeli. Of the $423,509.79 that was fundraised between Oct. 20, 2020 and May 21, 2021, how much of that was used for Regina Caeli? How much was used to purchase a piece of land in Winona, Texas so Mrs. Beckman could form a cult?”
The person filing the complaint also had further questions:
“When Regina Caeli Academy used travel and hotel rewards programs for training, campus visits, etc, who reaped the benefits of those massive rewards points? Were those put on Regina Caeli rewards cards, or Mrs. Beckman’s personal rewards cards? Did the Beckman family travel and vacation using those points?
“Is Regina Caeli going to provide Board meeting minutes for the Board meetings where Jim Graham was present as a member of the Board, while the affair was taking place?
“Is Regina Caeli planning to undergo a financial audit? If Mrs. Beckman had such a major lapse in judgement with regards to her personal life, what would prevent her from having a lapse in judgement in the financial affairs of the organization?”
No board member has responded to our repeated calls for comment. Kari Beckman, Rich Beckman, Jim Graham, Nicole Juba, and Regina Caeli and Vertitatis Splendor’s communications offices have not responded to our repeated calls for comment. Bishop Joseph Strickland, an outspoken booster of Veritatis Splendor, was not available for comment.
There is much more to the story here. Please do read the whole thing.
What is so amazing about this story is how absolutely unamazing it is. Anybody familiar with this subculture of hyper-righteous Inquisitors, convince they are sent by God Almighty to save the Church from Pope Francis and all the Impure, filled with a sense of moral rectitude, sure that they and they alone have the chops to create Utopia, given to believing the biggest and most visible-from-space cons again and again and again could have easily foreseen that this was all going to end in disaster.
But the MAGA cult learns nothing. Over and over and over, they learn nothing from self-inflicted disasters like this. They just fall radio silent and sail on, filled with a deathless sense of their invincible Righteousness and more convinced than ever that they have what it takes to be Saviors.