NEW YORK (ChurchMilitant.com) - Over the past few years one leading clergyman of the archdiocese of New York after another has become engulfed in scandal.
First, in 2014, Msgr. Michael Hull abandoned the priesthood shortly after completing lavish renovations to the rectory of the parish of which he had been pastor and building, at a cost of over $18 million, the Sheen Center for Thought and Culture. He had run off with a young woman who had been interning at the Sheen Center and joined the Scottish Episcopal Church. Since then the Sheen Center has hosted a lecture by the notoriously pro-homosexual Fr. James Martin.
In 2015, Fr. Peter Miqueli resigned as pastor of St. Jane Francis de Chantel when it was learned that he was being sued for embezzling over a million dollars and had an ongoing homosexual relationship with a prostitute, while complaints made to archdiocesan authorities since 2013 had been ignored. The whistleblower was the prostitute's former girlfriend, who had been thrown out of his house when Miqueli forced him to choose between them.
Within weeks of Miqueli's resignation, The New York Post reported that he was attempting to conceal his ongoing relationship with the prostitute by arranging their encounters at a house in New Jersey. The archdiocese subsequently sent Miqueli to treatment centers but did not formally suspend him until this year.
In September of 2018, Msgr. Gregory Mustaciuolo, who had been a close friend of Msgr. Hull and a protector of Fr. Miqueli, was removed from his offices of chancellor and vicar general of the archdiocese following the beginning of an investigation by New York's attorney general into archdiocesan handling of allegations of sexual abuse.
Just a month ago, the archdiocesan director of priest personnel, Msgr. Edward Weber, has been temporarily removed from ministry while the archdiocese investigates charges of rape.
In light of these developments, I would like to put forward certain facts which further demonstrate the character of those who long played leading roles in the archdiocese of New York.
During a meeting of clergy of the archdiocese, Msgr. Mustaciuolo, while in office as chancellor, verbally informed those in attendance of regulations allowing for baptism of children in the custody of homosexual couples, a violation of Canon 868 of the Code of Canon Law, which stipulates, "For an infant to be baptized licitly ... there must be a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion," the only exception being that an "infant of Catholic parents or even of non-Catholic parents is baptized licitly in danger of death even against the will of the parents."
The reasons for these laws should be obvious enough. The Church does not wish to admit to membership those who it can reasonably be presumed will never live a life of faith while at the same time it wants to prevent the possibility of children dying without the grace of baptism.
A witness to this meeting says one of the priests in attendance challenged Msgr. Mustaciuolo, who responded that he was not interested in discussing questions of theology and canon law.
He was then asked by a priest (possibly the same one) what, if anything, Cdl. Timothy Dolan had said on the topic. Mustaciuolo claimed Dolan endorsed his position, and, when pressed, said he would obtain written approval from the cardinal. No such document was ever produced.
A similar incident involved Mustaciuolo's vice chancellor, Msgr. Douglas Mathers, who told an annual convocation of pastors of the archdiocese that all the diocesan bishops in the state of New York were working to develop a common policy concerning the baptism of children in the custody of homosexual couples. It is hard to believe that this honestly reflected the position of certain New York bishops and, as in the former case, confirmation of such claims from the bishops in question never materialized.
Multiple former students of the St. John Neumann Residence (the former pre-seminary formation program of the archdiocese) or of St. Joseph's Seminary record mistreatment of themselves or others by Mustaciuolo's friend Msgr. Hull during the time when the latter was serving in both institutions, heading the former while teaching at the latter.
One student left only a few months after beginning studies and considered entering into psychological counseling to overcome the effects of Hull's behavior. Another left after Hull told him, "You won't beat me" together with a comment to the effect that the student didn't have the educational and professional background of one of his fellows, who Hull was at the time targeting, but was (at least at that point) successfully defending himself.
A third was questioned by Hull about his practice concerning the reception of one of the sacraments, which ordinarily should not be done, as this could raise "internal forum" matters which are not supposed to be addressed by superiors and professors but only by spiritual directors. According to this individual, Hull had reason to believe that internal forum matters were not at issue but raised the topic as part of a pattern of pressuring the student away from certain legitimate preferences.
More disturbing was an incident in which one of Hull's students, early on in his period of formation, inquired if Christ had one will or two. Catholic dogma teaches that Christ had both a divine will and a human will, but Hull's response was that one person can only have one will. When the student later learned the dogma and pointed it out to Hull, his response was that he already was aware of Church teaching but didn't see how it made sense for one person to have two wills.
One can only hope that the developments of the past few years will lead to much-needed housecleaning in the archdiocese of New York.
Church Militant contacted the archdiocese of New York for comment but received no response as of press time.