NEW YORK (ChurchMilitant.com) - Church Militant has confirmed that longtime vicar general Msgr. Greg Mustaciuolo will no longer serve in his position in the New York archdiocese, and will be replaced by another priest.
Saint Gregory Barbarigo Parish confirmed that Fr. Joseph LaMorte will be taking over the position of vicar general effective Oct. 1.
Although the archdiocese has not publicly given any reason for the abrupt change, inside sources confirm Mustaciuolo's removal is directly related to the launch of the New York attorney general's investigation into the Catholic Church — a move long feared by the New York archdiocese.
On Sept. 6, Barbara Underwood announced she had subpoenaed documents pertaining to clerical abuse from all eight Catholic dioceses. Her investigation came weeks after the Pennsylvania attorney general published a massive grand jury report naming 301 predator priests in six Pennsylvania dioceses, who had allegedly abused more than 1,000 victims — mostly male.
Mustaciuolo is reportedly leaving the archdiocese to become Chief Financial Officer at Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, according to a Sept. 18 email sent from Cdl. Dolan to priests of the archdiocese.
Mustaciuolo has been a fixture in the New York archdiocese for decades, going back to his time as student at St. Joseph's Seminary in Dunwoodie, where he was the favorite of then-Rector Msgr. Edwin O'Brien, and given the nickname "Pet." It was understood among seminarians that the two enjoyed an unusually intimate relationship.
According to sources who have spoken with Church Militant on the record and anonymously, Mustaciuolo — who also serves as chancellor and moderator of the curia, and has long been considered the second most powerful person in the New York archdiocese — had reportedly long been aware of Fr. Peter Miqueli's embezzling of hundreds of thousands of dollars, as well as his gay lifestyle with prostitute Keith Crist. Additionally, sources claim he has known for decades about other active gay priests in New York, and that he works to protect them and shelter them from the public eye — and that Dolan has him in place in large part for this purpose.
"Well, it's not secret among the clergy in the archdiocese of New York that Msgr. Mustaciuolo is in fact the protector of Peter Miqueli," said a source in the archdiocese who goes by the alias "Bob" to protect his identity. "That's a very well-known fact that has been established."
Miqueli was forced to resign in 2016 after he was sued by parishioners for embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from St. Frances de Chantal parish in Throggs Neck — money he used for sex and drugs with gay-for-pay prostitute Keith Crist.
Although parishioners had complained for two years of Miqueli's misconduct, with multiple witnesses willing to testify to his financial and sexual misconduct, the archdiocese of New York did little to curb the priest's behavior, only being forced to act after parishioners sued, and once Miqueli's story made national headlines.
Multiple sources confirmed with Church Militant that O'Brien had special relationships with both Miqueli and Crist, who would chauffeur him from the airport when O'Brien flew in from Rome (when he was rector of the Pontifical North American College) to offer Confirmation Masses at Miqueli's small, isolated parish in Roosevelt Island — an unusual act for a cardinal of such high rank.
Crist, who is forbidden to be on archdiocesan property, reportedly picked up O'Brien from the airport during each visit, and was present at "special dinners" with O'Brien's small coterie of friends, who invariably included Miqueli, Bp. Gerald Walsh (Vicar for Clergy) and others from the chancery.
Retired Navy Chaplain Gene Gomulka, a former monsignor who worked under O'Brien when he was archbishop for the military services, confirmed with Church Militant that O'Brien deliberately underreported the incidents of priest sex abuse, and covered up homosexual misconduct committed by Chaplain Fr. Matt Lee, whom Gomulka reported as engaging in inappropriate homosexual relations with a live-in boyfriend. In spite of Gomulka's report, O'Brien did nothing, allowing Lee to be transferred to a more prestigious position at Quantico, where he went on to commit sexual assault. He was eventually arrested for male child porn and is currently serving a 30-year prison sentence in Delaware.
O'Brien was recently named in Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò's testimony as part of the "homosexual current" in the Church.
Miqueli's parishioners wrote a letter to Viganò in January 2015 asking him to launch an investigation into Miqueli's misdeeds and the archdiocese's inaction.
*9/18/2018: This article was updated with new information regarding Msgr. Mustaciuolo's role at Cabrini Health Foundation.