The parishioners at St. Frances de Chantal Catholic Church in the Bronx have had it with their pastor, Fr. Peter Miqueli, who allegedly brought habits of gross misconduct from his previous parish on Roosevelt Island into St. Frances. The Bronx parishioners, along with some of Miqueli’s former flock on Roosevelt Island, have filed a $1 million lawsuit in an effort to get him ousted and defrocked. The NY Daily News reports:
Timothy Cardinal Dolan and the archdiocese are also named as defendants in the Manhattan court papers.
The lawsuit charges the church hierarchy, in an echo of the pedophilia scandal, with covering up for the pervert priest.
“We can’t understand it,” said Bronx parishioner Jack Lynch. “It seems they are going out of their way to protect him, and for years. We suspect a scandal behind the scandal.”
The Daily News reports that the ex-girlfriend of the priest’s alleged boy-toy-for-hire alerted Cardinal Timothy Dolan and other Archdiocese of New York officials earlier this year about what Father Miqueli was up to. The New York Post quotes at length from the e-mails in a story today. Be warned: this is sick, sick stuff. Excerpt:
The scorned ex-girlfriend of an S&M “master” to a Catholic priest went right to the top and sent Timothy Cardinal Dolan e-mails that were hardly suitable for church — laying out details of the romps that were allegedly funded with cash skimmed from the poor box.
Tatyana Gudin shared with The Post her message to the cardinal that recounted how the Rev. Peter Miqueli allegedly wore a locked Lucite chastity belt along with a dog collar during pricey sessions with his bodybuilder lover.
She also claimed to the pope’s right-hand man in America that Miqueli had an interfaith fantasy of being humiliated in Borough Park, Brooklyn, in front of a “nice Jewish girl.”
Miqueli, meanwhile, remained a pastor of St. Frances de Chantal in the Throggs Neck neighborhood of The Bronx on Friday.
Gudin, Crist’s former girlfriend and confidante of 10 years, said she sounded the alarm about Miqueli in her e-mails to Dolan over the summer.
The first one began with, “I would like to tell you who your priest, Father Miqueli, really is.”
“Keith has been Father Miquelis gay, for-pay prostitute,” the e-mail reads.
“More specifically, Father Miqueli is Keith Crist’s toilet slave,” Gudin wrote Dolan.
“If you don’t know what that means, Cardinal, I will break it down for you . . . Keith Crist uses Father Miqueli as his toilet, [deleted passage — RD] during their weekly, 3 day get-togethers when they take off to Father Miquelis house in Brick, NJ, far away from prying eyes.”
Miqueli bought the white brick ranch house for $264,000 in embezzled cash in 2009, the lawsuit alleges.
The house features a hot tub in the back and a statue of the Virgin Mary out front.
“Father Miqueli has a full-blown dungeon in the house,” she wrote Dolan.
First, I cannot and will not comment on the specifics of the lawsuit itself. As this is a legal matter, I will let the lawyers handle that in court.
But, I can say that there are a group of individuals at St. Francis de Chantal parish who have made some serious allegations concerning Fr. Miqueli. The archdiocese has, from the beginning, taken these allegations seriously, and has been investigating them, including conducting a forensic audit of the parish, which is still on-going. One of our auxiliary bishops, Bishop John Jenik, has met with the parishioners, in an effort to try to hear their concerns and reach a resolution, along with a distinguished group of legal professionals.
To date we have found nothing to substantiate the allegations that have been raised, and, in fact, with regard to the parish finances, we know that the allegation that Father Miqueli stole $1 million from each parish, as was alleged by the plantiffs’ attorney, is completely false. We did find that Father Miqueli had deficient management and administrative practices, and have put forward several directives to remedy those deficiencies.
Here’s what I don’t get: if you are the Cardinal Archbishop of New York, and you are credibly told that one of your priests is in an extremely kinky relationship with a gay prostitute, don’t you call that priest into your office the very next day and give him the third degree? Or at least the next day? Or the day after that?
Leaving aside the financial mismanagement charges, there are three possibilities here:
1) the Archdiocese investigated these allegations of grotesque sexual misconduct and found them groundless;
2) the Archdiocese investigated, found these allegations true, but chose not to act on them; or
3) the Archdiocese never investigated the allegations
If these salacious allegations against Fr. Miqueli are false, the Archdiocese should say so unambiguously, and clear his name.
If the Archdiocese did not take the allegations seriously, it owes the people of the Archdiocese an explanation as to why not, especially in an era of so-called zero tolerance in the Church.
If the Archdiocese substantiated these allegations against Fr. Miqueli, but left him in parish ministry, it owes the people of the Archdiocese an explanation.
While Zwilling continues to protect our pastor, Fr. Peter Miqueli, there are elements of his defense that are utterly false. He says that “The archdiocese has, from the beginning, taken these allegations seriously,” but this is hardly true. Had they been taking us seriously, we would not have had to go to the media for them to listen to us. For the past three years we have reached out to them and have been stonewalled with the most minimal efforts of help.
He says that a current forensic audit by the archdiocese is currently taking place. If the archdiocese is trying to protect itself, which as every time they issue a statement it is evident they are, the audit will be sloppy and not turn up any wrongdoing. Taking the audit into their own hands is suspicious and cannot be trusted.
One thing that Zwilling absolutely fails to comment on is Fr. Miqueli’s relationship with Keith Crist. This is a completely true, and sickening fact. There is no question about the two and their relations. The archdiocese has been well aware of the two being together and yet has done absolutely nothing, showing that they clearly approve of what is occurring.
Lastly, anything that has been said by our parish about Fr. Miquei is more true than anything the archdiocese has said or will say. The archdiocese is in the defense and is well experienced in covering things up. We as parishioners have gone to such lengths because of our convictions of Fr. Peter Miqueli. We have dealt with him and have personally witnessed his wrongdoing. The archdiocese has not. For them to try to understand the situation by staying in their offices and not really meeting with us to learn more about the situation, they cannot grasp the suffering we have been going through.
In this situation, the archdiocese has something to lose. They have secrets they are protecting and Fr. Miqueli is a crucial element in them. If we did not stand firm in our attitude toward Fr. Miqueli, we would not have been fighting this for as long as we have been. The archdiocese, Cardinal Dolan, Zwilling, and Fr. Miqueli made this into the media circus that is has become. If the archdiocese had nothing to hide, and really cared about the issue at hand when first brought up three years ago, the extent to which this has escalated, would not have occurred.
This all bears watching. The sense among these activist parishioners is that a lavender mafia within the Archdiocesan administration has been protecting Miqueli. If true, what does Miqueli have on them?
After all these years, it is clear that the only way anything will change in these situations is if ordinary parishioners get sick and tired of being used and abused by the clericalist establishment, and fight back. The Catholic hierarchy has deeply damaged its own credibility. This is a problem entirely of its own making.
UPDATE: Cardinal Dolan says today that the ex-girlfriend didn’t show up at a meeting she agreed to, for the sake of discussing the e-mails, so he turned the e-mails over to the DA. He’s hurt that anybody thinks the Archdiocese would have been behaving in anything but a respectable way.
This makes little sense. For one, why would he have to meet with the woman to see evidence that she says she had already e-mailed him? For another, this sounds like a dodge by the cardinal. The DA doesn’t care about what a priest does with another consenting adult, however sordid it may be. This is not a hard case. Cardinal Dolan, if he cared to get to the bottom of the sexual allegations, could have and should have called Fr. Miqueli in on that first week to ask about them. He could have undertaken an investigation, and talked to parishioners. It does not appear that he has done that, even though he has known about the gay sadomasochistic romps for months.
UPDATE.2: Father Miqueli is out at St. Frances de Chantal. Out, as in “no longer the pastor there.” As for the rest of it, we’ll see.