NEW YORK (ChurchMilitant.com) - The archdiocese of New York is in the middle of a fundraising drive to raise $200 million, even while keeping misbehaving priests on its payroll.
In a letter obtained by Church Militant, Cdl. Timothy Dolan asks an elderly New Yorker struggling with ill health to make a "sacrificial donation of $250,000, to be paid over a five-year period."
According to an inside source, the priest of that particular parish had to take lessons a couple weeks before his fundraising speech, with someone from the archdiocese sent to teach him how to make the presentation asking for money.
The speech before the parish involved discussion of the archdiocese's Renew + Rebuild campaign, whose money will go towards parish renewal, schools, support for clergy, Catholic Charities and St. Patrick's Cathedral, among others.
At the parish level, approximately 75 percent will go towards St. Columba, with a quarter of funds being sent to the archdiocese.
The archdiocese consistently ends each year millions of dollars in debt, and relies heavily on contributions from parishioners to fund its annual operating expenses. It recently underwent its largest parish restructuring in New York's history, closing and merging multiple parishes — the result of dwindling Mass attendance, fewer priests and less money.
Called "Making All Things New," critics of the restructuring campaign called it "Making All Things Revenue," a way for the archdiocese to dig itself out of debt partly by closing down and selling off prime real estate. Although the archdiocese claims it has no plans to sell the properties anytime soon, past churches closed in New York have sold for millions, some demolished or converted into luxury apartment houses.
Financial reports show New York Archdiocesan Services end each year with an operating loss in the millions, with expenses consistently outpacing revenues:
In 2015, Cdl. Dolan and the archdiocese were sued by parishioners of St. Frances de Chantal in the Bronx over claims that parish priest Fr. Peter Miqueli embezzled $1 million from the parish to use on a gay-for-pay prostitute. The archdiocese conducted its own investigation and recently announced — to the frustration and outrage of parishioners, a number who could testify to the sexual misdeeds — that "nothing has been brought forward to substantiate them."
Additionally, the Bronx District Attorney refused to prosecute Miqueli, even though she admitted proof that he wrongly took $22,000 of parish funds — grand larceny in the third degree, according to New York law, which carries a penalty of between 2–7 years in prison.
Although Miqueli is no longer ministering as a priest, the archdiocese has not pursued laicization, meaning Miqueli is still on the archdiocese's payroll, his living expenses ultimately being paid by N.Y. parishioners.
In fact, the N.Y. archdiocese has a history of protecting misbehaving priests while punishing others for less egregious offenses. In addition to its sheltering of Miqueli, it has also protected and even promoted one priest caught some years ago in a gay sex sting. He has since been promoted to head of archdiocesan TV.
Contrast that with the treatment of Fr. Justin Wylie, a visiting priest and negotiator at the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, who was swiftly thrown out of New York in 2014 after exposing priestly corruption. And Kevin Gallagher, a defrocked priest, was laicized after one instance of sexual activity with an adult, while little has been done to Fr. Miqueli in spite of multiple complaints by eyewitnesses over the course of several years.
Sources claim the root of the problem is Vicar General Msgr. Gregory Mustaciuolo, allegedly an active homosexual who holds great power in the archdiocese and doles out punishment or reward to priests, without hindrance from Cdl. Dolan.
Sex abuse lawsuits have also dogged the N.Y. archdiocese for years. Earlier this year, the archdiocese took out a $100 million mortgage on Manhattan property in order to pay victims of priestly abuse. The mortgage was taken out on land owned beneath the Lotte New York Palace Hotel as well as the 19th-century Villard Houses on Madison Avenue, across the street from St. Patrick's Cathedral.
The archdiocese's most recent payouts involve $1.8 million issued in a settlement announced in late October for six victims (five of them male) abused by eight priests.
The Renew + Rebuild capital campaign comes amid Dolan's calls for fewer Masses.
"Many Catholics in the archdiocese of New York are not aware that Cdl. Dolan has asked all pastors to try to cut down on the number of Masses in all our parishes," explained Msgr. Joseph Giandurco of St. Patrick's Church in Yorktown Heights in an October 29 parish bulletin. The priest cites "fewer people coming to Mass," "fewer priests available" and the "rising costs for everything involved in having too many Masses" as reasons for the reduction.
The fundraising drive also comes during continuing and costly litigation involving Dolan's refusal to honor the wishes of Ven. Abp. Fulton J. Sheen's niece and her request to move her uncle's body to a shrine in Peoria, Illinois so that his cause for canonization can advance. Although New York had initially claimed it would obey the court and not pursue litigation, after the lower court ruled in Sheen's niece's favor and ordered that the body be moved, the archdiocese petitioned to block the order while it appealed the ruling.
Monsignor James Kruse, vicar general of the diocese of Peoria, spoke with Church Militant at the time, and expressed the diocese's "complete disappointment" in Dolan's decision "to draw this process out even longer."