The chancery of the New York archdiocese is located at 1011 1st Avenue — but the powerbroking takes place at 452 Madison, the residence of the cardinal-archbishop, where the offices of a trio of the cardinal's inner circle are located, who do their work quietly and away from the public eye: Vicar General Msgr. Greg Mustaciuolo, Chief Finance Officer William Whiston and Communications Director Joseph Zwilling.
Multiple sources who have spoken with ChurchMilitant.com have already confirmed that Mustaciuolo and Zwilling had knowledge going back years of diocesan priest Fr. Peter Miqueli's sadomasochistic lifestyle with his gay-for-pay lover, Keith Crist, as well as allegations of embezzling nearly $1 million from parish funds — a scandal that exploded onto the national scene last fall when Miqueli's parishioners, frustrated with the archdiocese's inaction, filed a civil lawsuit against Miqueli and the archdiocese alleging wrongdoing. The Bronx district attorney has also launched a criminal investigation.
Miqueli has since resigned as pastor, and the archdiocese has secured legal counsel to defend itself.
Sources say Miqueli's case is only part of the much wider scandal of homosexual priests in New York living double lives — all with the knowledge and blessing of those in the chancery, including Cdl. Timothy Dolan.
"There is an unwritten policy in the archdiocese of New York," said a source named Bob who spoke with ChurchMilitant.com, "and that unwritten policy is that it's okay for a priest to be living the life that he wants to live as long as he's living it in secret."
Zwilling, longtime communications director for the archdiocese, is also implicated. "As the spokesperson for the archdiocese of New York," Bob said, "he's just someone there to spin statements."
When asked whether he believes Zwilling is lying when he claims the archdiocese was unaware of Fr. Miqueli's crimes, Bob answered, "I believe he is, directly."
After ChurchMilitant.com and the New York Post broke the Miqueli story last year, other major New York Catholic media outfits remained conspicuously silent. The reason? One source confirmed with ChurchMilitant.com that Zwilling had called up local stations and told them not to run the story, or else they could expect to be denied future interviews with the cardinal.
The archdiocesan newspaper Catholic New York ran a single article on the situation, but its message was carefully controlled. Half the article was taken up with a statement from Zwilling denying any proof of wrongdoing on Miqueli's part, and instead blaming parishioners and Crist's girlfriend Tatiana Gudin of failure to cooperate.
He repeated the incomplete narrative that Gudin had refused to meet with the archdiocese, when in fact Gudin herself as well as parishioners have confirmed with ChurchMilitant.com that she had originally agreed to meet with the archdiocese as long as she could bring a parishioner as moral support and also as a witness. At the last minute, the archdiocese changed the terms and forbade the parishioner, at which point Gudin refused to attend. The parishioners supported her decision not to attend, as they were concerned the archdiocese would take advantage of her, demanding that she hand over evidence and then burying the story.
In 1982, in spite of Zwilling's youth and lack of experience in media (his only other professional experience has been eight months of fundraising for WGBH), he was hired by the New York archdiocese in his early 20s as an office assistant, and later for the important role of spokesman — a position he has now occupied for nearly 34 years, living through the reigns of four archbishops: Cdls. Terence Cooke, John O'Connor, Edward Egan and now Timothy Dolan.
Some speculate the reason for his high placement is owing to the influence of his wife's brother, Abp. Charles Daniel Balvo, a Brooklyn native who got his degrees in Manhattan and Queens before receiving advanced degrees at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, the Catholic University of America and the Pontifical Gregorian University.
Balvo has served as apostolic nuncio to a number of different countries, and today serves as first nuncio to South Sudan. It is said it's through Balvo's influence, a man highly esteemed in New York, that Zwilling continues to occupy a place of power in the chancery.
But Zwilling serves as far more than merely spokesman, sources insist. He is a close advisor to the cardinal, and important meetings are often held at the less visible 452 Madison in order to keep attendees out of the spotlight. Sources also confirm he works with a skeleton staff deliberately kept in the dark about many archdiocesan goings on.
Case in point: the hiring of Kate Monaghan in 2010. The archdiocese was advertising for assistant director of communications, and received stellar resumés from numerous young graduates of Catholic colleges in the archdiocese. Yet Zwilling chose Monaghan — an outsider from Kentucky whose only experience consisted in four months at a campaign for a Georgia congressman. The move raised eyebrows, and sources claim the reason for the hire was largely owing to her lack of knowledge of the inner workings of the archdiocese and of its past.
Shortly after bringing her on, she was transferred from archdiocesan headquarters to St. Patrick's Cathedral, where she was made communications director for the Cathedral Restoration Campaign, now her main focus, which keeps her distant from the inside mechanics of the chancery.
Zwilling often plays as a kind of bodyguard to Dolan, who does not welcome controversy or unpredictable questions — in contrast to Cdl. O'Connor, who had a reputation for willingness to speak with anyone and who welcomed controversial queries. Zwilling has a close working relationship with the New York police department, and sources confirm he frequently alerts the police if there is someone who may pose a difficult question to the cardinal or whom he wants removed.
Zwilling did just that at the 2015 New York St. Patrick's Day parade to Michael Voris and his crew after Voris asked Cdl. Dolan how he'd respond to faithful Catholics who believed he was causing great scandal by marching as Grand Marshal that year — the first year the parade had lifted the ban on gays and allowed an activist homosexual group to march officially under its own banner. After Dolan offered a brief response, he turned away, and footage shows Zwilling immediately ordered the police to throw Voris and his crew out, who were then physically manhandled and pushed out of the press scrum.
The irony of the situation is highlighted in Dolan's welcoming language in answer to Voris' question only seconds earlier: "Come on in! Love to have ya'!" Voris later commented that the incident "shatters this entire façade of the Church of Nice being welcoming and friendly."
Other sources who spoke with ChurchMilitant.com on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation have confirmed that Zwilling has little problem lying for the archdiocese when it suits his purpose, and is indeed lying when he claims the archdiocese was unaware of Miqueli's past misdeeds.
ChurchMilitant.com has direct experience of Zwilling's dishonesty. In 2010, when Michael Voris spoke with Zwilling in order to confirm reports that Cdl. Dolan had openly welcomed an LGBT group during Mass at St. Francis Xavier parish — a church known for its homosexual-friendly atmosphere — Zwilling flatly denied an LGBT group was involved at the Mass or that the cardinal welcomed them in any way.
But video obtained later proved Zwilling's claims to be false, as the footage showed the LGBT group was not only publicly announced before the entire church, but that Cdl. Dolan both acknowledged them and welcomed them specifically.
Zwilling has worked with Mustaciuolo for 25 years at 452 Madison, and the two are said to be key in maintaining the power structure in the New York archdiocese, with Mustaciuolo as the behind-the-scenes ringleader of an influential homosexual network, and Zwilling the public face of the archdiocese in doing damage control for Dolan or for errant clergy when the situation calls for it.
Watch the explosive tell-all interview about the New York archdiocese and Zwilling's alleged complicity in the Fr. Miqueli scandal: