NEW YORK (ChurchMilitant.com) - New York Catholics are pushing back against corruption in the archdiocese. After Fr. Peter Miqueli was cleared of all wrongdoing — a priest sued for allegedly embezzling $1 million from two parishes to use on a gay-for-pay prostitute — parishioners of St. Frances de Chantal in the Bronx are slamming the archdiocese and the district attorney for protecting a bad priest.
"We contest your praise of the 'diligent efforts' of the DA," read parishioners' November 10 letter to Bp. Gerald Walsh, Vicar for Clergy, "and question the fact that a 'thorough investigation' could have been accomplished without interviews of several parishioners with first-hand knowledge and physical evidence regarding Peter Miqueli's illegal activities, notably, the piles of cash witnessed on the floor of Miqueli's living quarters."
The letter goes on to blast the archdiocese for its handling of the case:
What you call his "improper reimbursement" and "misappropriation" of other people's money is called Grand Larceny by any reasonable person. No matter how many elegant terms you choose, Miqueli stole, embezzled, defrauded, cheated, fleeced, conned, and swindled the people of the parishes in which he was appointed to be a spiritual leader, setting an example for others. He abused his people ... and the ADNY did nothing to come to our aid when it was happening, did nothing to stop it, and is now putting a cosmetic spin on the disgrace that they allowed to continue, casting doubt on the veracity, decency and integrity of the abused parishioners.
According to New York law, embezzling money up to $50,000 is grand larceny in the third degree, and carries a sentence of between two–seven years in state prison.
"You state that Miqueli's 'improper reimbursement' to himself (again that delicate term!) 'cannot be excused or condoned,'" the letter continued. "Yet, you consider the 'matter closed.' That sounds an awful lot like the ADNY and the Bronx DA have 'excused and condoned' Miqueli's theft."
In 2015, parishioners of St. Frances de Chantal filed a lawsuit against Cdl. Dolan and the archdiocese of New York, after years of complaints against Miqueli went largely ignored. Only once the lawsuit was filed and the story drew national media attention did the archdiocese take concrete steps to remove Miqueli from public ministry.
On October 26, 2017, Bp. Walsh sent a letter to parishioners announcing that the Miqueli matter was closed.
"The allegations of criminal conduct were found to be unsubstantiated," he wrote. "Because the funds that were improperly reimbursed to Father Miqueli (over $22,000.00) are now being paid back to the parish, the District Attorney considers this matter to be closed."
Walsh continued, "The archdiocese has attempted to investigate the other, more sensational, accusations of morally abhorrent behavior, but, to date, nothing has been brought forward to substantiate them, and Father Miqueli continues to deny them."
This contradicts multiple eyewitness accounts of Miqueli employing and living with gay-for-pay prostitute Keith Crist, who worked in the parish gift shop, in spite of the fact that he had been forbidden by the archdiocese to be on parish property.
Tatyana Gudin, former girlfriend of Crist, has spoken with Church Militant multiple times to attest to the fact that Crist was indeed having paid, sexual encounters with Miqueli frequently. According to her, this included $1,000 sexual trysts, $300 bottles of whiskey and the drug Dilaudid.
"The people of our parish are sadder, but wiser today," the letter from parishioners read. "We simply do not believe that the ADNY made any attempt to investigate Miqueli's personal behavior."
According to sources who have spoken with Church Militant on the record and anonymously, Msgr. Greg Mustaciuolo, vicar general and the second most powerful person in the New York archdiocese, has reportedly long been aware of Miqueli's embezzling 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. "That's a very well-known fact that has been established."
Even more, multiple sources from within the archdiocese have confirmed with Church Militant that Mustaciuolo is an active homosexual, and that he himself is allegedly protected by Cdl. Edwin O'Brien, former archbishop of Baltimore, former archbishop for Military Services, and current grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
Even after the 2015 lawsuit, eyewitnesses spotted Miqueli still seeing his boyfriend in January 2016.
"He's here all the time," a neighbor told the New York Post, referring to Crist. "Sometimes he takes in the groceries, the trash. They have no shame."
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 the faithful in New York.
"The parishioners of St. Frances de Chantal neither sought nor desired to focus new attention on this shameful scandal, but, because the ADNY did not address it honestly for a dozen years, we must all attend to it again today," the parishioners' letter ended. "We are steadfast and faithful Catholics. We insist upon a prompt response to the challenges and questions in this letter."