John C. Favalora is a sallow old man who looks like the corpse of Dom DeLuise. He likes attractive young men to sit on his lap and allegedly treats them to trips in the Florida Keys. He was, until recently, part owner of a company that makes “all natural” boner-inducing beverages. He’s also the Archbishop Emeritus of Miami.
Favalora, who was the most powerful Catholic official in Southern Florida from 1994 until last year, stands accused of cultivating what one group of pissed-off Catholics describes as a corrupt “homosexual superculture” in the 195 churches, schools, missions, seminaries, and universities that constitute the Miami Archdiocese. If their allegations are to be believed, for sixteen years Favalora ran his organization like the don of a lavender mob, rewarding his favorite homosexual sons and forgiving their many indiscretions—rampant sex, hedonism, embezzlement, alcoholism, and the railroading of chaste priests among them—while punishing those with the temerity to complain. Wanton hedonistic gay sex is of course unobjectionable—even encouraged!—among those not in thrall to the idea that God hates your penis. But for the 500-or-so priests and deacons charged by The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI with ensuring the spiritual integrity of 1.3 million of God’s children in Southern Florida, it’s…unorthodox.
Favalora’s accusers are loosely organized under the name “Christifidelis,” and in 2005 they undertook an extensive investigation of priestly misbehavior in the Archdiocese. They now believe their findings resulted in Archbishop Favalora’s sacking last year, and his replacement by a manly, conservative workaholic named Thomas Wenski. The leader of Christifidelis, an attorney named Sharon Bourassa, declined to comment for this story. But it hardly matters. Christifidelis’s exertions on behalf of Mother Church are recorded in an enormous, binder-bound document entitled “Miami Vice: A Preliminary Report on the Financial, Spiritual, and Sexual Improprieties of the Clergy of the Miami Archdiocese.” Today, for the first time, Gawker is releasing portions of it to the public.
A Kind of Gay Hogwarts With Palm Trees
Here are just some of the un-Catholic behaviors that “Miami Vice” accuses Favalora of engaging in: He partially owned a company that manufactured Yohimbe, an aphrodisiac beverage marketed to horny club-kids with the promise of “the hands-down best sex of your life.” He allegedly took frequent trips to fabulous Key West with his gay associates. He was over-familiar toward his seminarians. (One ex-employee of the diocese recalls him telling a young seminarian at a gathering to “Come to papa and sit on my lap.”) Favalora’s second- and third-in-command, Monsignor William Hennessey and Monsignor Michael Souckar, are both accused by Christefidelis of being active homosexuals—and if they are, that counts among the least of their difficulties with Catholic orthodoxy.
In fact, the Archdiocese was a hotbed of sodomy long before Favalora set foot in Florida. Two unrelated sources, both priests, speak of a flamboyantly gay bishop in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, named Miguel Rodriguez Rodriguez, who was known to his pupils as “Lili.” These sources claim that during the 1970s and 80’s, Lili treated Arecibo like his own personal harem, urging cute young men into the priesthood and plying them with gifts and money in exchange for sexual favors. Rome allegedly interceded in 1990 and banished Lili to a secluded monastery, where he remained until his death 20 years later. Several of Lili’s erstwhile pupils landed in Miami in the 80’s and 90’s. Naturally, they were disinclined to take their celibacy oaths too seriously.
Priests speak, too, about the culture of “sex-driven favoritism” at St. John Vianney College Seminary—a kind of gay Hogwarts with palm trees, located out in the flat suburban wastes of southwest Dade County. Seminaries are traditionally gay places—Papist wits refer to Notre Dame seminary as “Notre Flame,” Theological College as “Theological Closet,” Mundelein as “Pink Palace,” and so on. But St. John Vianney was special. One seminarian who dropped out in disgust in the 1980s recalls a miserable year being bullied by gay faculty, and the rector, Robert Lynch, fawning over his favorite seminarian: an attractive upper-classman named Steven O’Hala. The dropout also recalls Lynch installing a camera in the seminary’s weight room to capture images of pumped, sweaty seminarians. (He is now a minister in a liberal Christian denomination, and says he has no beef with gay people.)
“He grabbed my crotch. Then he apologized, and we became friends.”
A similar story is told by Peter P. Fuchs, an ex-seminarian who was at St. John Vianney during the last two years of Lynch’s tenure. “Steve O’Hala was definitely his boy. He was very buff—[Lynch] used to take pictures of him in the weight room.” Asked whether Lynch actually installed a camera there, Fuchs laughs. “No. I think that would have been a little overt.”
Robert Lynch departed St. John Vianney in the mid-80’s. Twenty years later, as the bishop of the St. Petersburg diocese on Florida’s west coast, he was accused of sexually harassing Bill Urbanski, the diocese’s spokesman and the father of Lynch’s godson. Funnily enough, one of Urbanski’s more mild complaints was that Lynch liked to photograph him with his shirt off. The diocese settled out of court for $100,000.
Lynch’s replacement at St. John Vianney was a priest named Bernard Kirlin, whom a former pupil describes as an openly gay alcoholic. In 1983, Kirlin began an intense relationship with Peter P. Fuchs, then a young seminarian. “I probably entered [the seminary] partially because I was attracted to the idea of being in a gay environment,” says Fuchs, an erudite gay man who now lives with his husband in Washington, D.C. “But I was also very interested in theology, in the big questions.”
Fuchs was in his third year at St. John Vianney when Kirlin arrived. He was “urbane” and “brilliant,” Fuchs says. “Of course his attention flattered me.” Kirlin gravitated to Fuchs immediately, and invited him to dinner a few weeks into the academic year along with a few other seminarians. “I think he probably just invited the boys he thought were hot,” says Fuchs. The two men hit it off, and afterward Kirlin invited Fuchs back to the faculty building, where the pair sat and talked in the lounge. “He came on to me,” Fuchs says. “Very, very sloppily. He grabbed my crotch. Then he apologized, and we became friends.”
A Sick Culture
Kirlin and Fuchs were together “all the time” that year, relaxing, talking, and especially eating. “We ate out almost every night,” says Fuchs. “Nice restaurants. Remember Charade, in Coral Gables? That was a really, really expensive restaurant.” Eventually it occurred to Fuchs to ask where the money for these excursions came from. “[Kirlin] told me, ‘I work really hard, and they hardly pay me anything. So I take money out of the slush fund.'”
Fuchs says he loved Bernie Kirlin for his mind. He was “a profound mind, a deep mind, and incredibly fun and funny.” Bernie Kirlin seems to have loved Fuchs in a very different way, with the kind of keening, desperate, altogether embarrassing love that stunted sexual beings occasionally develop for objects of unrequited romantic feeling. During the pair’s trip to Rome, Fuchs says Bernie Kirlin would drunkenly enter his room in the small hours of the morning, wake him, and profess his undying devotion. “It was obnoxious. We fought a lot on that trip,” says Fuchs. “I can’t even remember what about. But the relationship was, at that time, becoming a little cloying.”
In an effort to save it, Fuchs says he decided to sleep with Kirlin, just once. “I can’t believe I was so stupid,” he says. “I guess I thought, you know, if I give him what he wants this one time, maybe he’ll be satisfied. What did I know? I was nineteen.” It didn’t work. Fuchs says that in the weeks after their one night stand, Kirlin’s ardor intensified.
After graduating from St. John Vianney, Fuchs was slated to continue his studies at St. Vincent de Paul in Boynton Beach, Fla. But this was too close to Miami, says Fuchs; an Archdiocesan official who had grown alarmed by Kirlin’s unhealthy fixation on Fuchs intervened. Fuchs was sent instead to Washington, D.C., where he met his future husband the following year. “And I got out,” he says. “I’m immensely glad. It’s a sick culture. The worst of religion and the worst of malformed human sexuality, jammed together in one place. The people who make it through to the priesthood have had to sublimate so much of themselves, have ignored so much. And then they’re supposed to minister to people? Please.”
Kirlin continued ministering to people, even after he was fired from the seminary. “I’ll never forget it,” says a former pupil. “They found [Kirlin] wasted in the bed of a seminarian. They dragged him out by his feet and his hands—dragged him all the way to the priest’s quarters. He was removed over that Christmas break.” Kirlin went to rehab. After stints in the Florida Keys and a Haitian neighborhood in Miami, Favalora rewarded him a beautiful parish in Coral Gables; a lush, moneyed municipality two miles south of downtown Miami.
Father Morales’ Live-in Boyfriend
Christifidelis formed in 2005 after the sacking of Father Andrew Dowgiert from All Saints Church, in Sunrise, FL, where Dowgiert served as an associate pastor. Officially, he was sacked because of his bad attitude and fondness for alcohol. Not so, says Christifidelis.
Dowgiert was a Polish priest who spent much of the 90’s ministering in Zimbabwe, where he contracted malaria. He was assigned to the Archdiocese of Miami in 1999, and became an associate pastor at St. Justin Martyr, in Key Largo, under Father Edward Olszewski. Shortly after Dowgiert’s arrival, Olszewski was charged with having raped a boy decades earlier in Michigan. (Olszewski was convicted, and sentenced to four years’ probation.) With Olszewski indisposed, Dowgiert took leadership of St. Justin Martyr for three years until a permanent pastor was installed. Dowgiert then moved to Good Shepherd parish in Miami, where he served as associate pastor under Father Michael Greer. Later, in a lawsuit Dowgiert filed against the Archdiocese, he alleged that Greer tried to seduce him.
Dowgiert served at Good Shepherd for a year. When Favalora announced that Dowgiert was to move again, Good Shepherd’s parishioners petitioned the Archdiocese to reconsider. According to the lawsuit, “the parishioners complained to Monsignor Michael Souckar … that Father Greer was not available to them and that Father [Dowgiert] was a stable priest.” The transfer proceeded anyway, and Dowgiert was assigned to serve under Father Anibal Morales at All Saints’ Church.
Perhaps you can imagine Dowgiert’s state of mind as he undertook his new assignment. He had, in the last decade, witnessed soul-crushing poverty in Zimbabwean villages, contended with a life-threatening illness, and been repeatedly forced to consider the implications of the Mother Church’s inability to pair him with a celibate priest, or even a non-celibate priest who got his rocks off in ways that didn’t involve coercive sodomy. And there he was, walking into Morales’s All Saints rectory, and already he’d heard the rumors. “Morales has a light touch with the parish funds,” and “Morales has a boyfriend.”
Father Anibal Morales (Right, photo via Archdiocese of Miami)
Morales may or may not have had a light touch with parish funds—if he did, he’s hardly unusual—but he was almost certainly a homosexual. Morales first attended seminary in Puerto Rico, where, incidentally, he is alleged to have been the pupil of the aforementioned Bishop Miguel “Lili” Rodriguez Rodriguez. Despite his august patronage, he was allegedly expelled for “sexual misconduct” with fellow students. He re-enrolled at St. John Vianney Seminary College in Miami, and was ejected from there, too. According to Dowgiert’s lawsuit, Favalora interceded on Morales’s behalf, and placed him under the tutelage of Father Gary Wiseman. (Allegedly, Wiseman himself was subsequently exiled to Mandeville, Jamaica, after accusations of sexual misconduct.) Morales received holy orders shortly thereafter.
Between his ordination and star-crossed meeting with Dowgiert, Morales scooted from church to church, pissing off parishioners wherever he went. According to Dowgiert’s lawsuit, Morales’s tenure at St. Francis de Sales was marked by rumors of missing parish funds. At St. John, Morales earned his parishioners’ wrath by parading his boyfriend in front of a youth group. (This resulted in a formal letter of complaint to the Archdiocese.) By the time Dowgiert arrived at All Saints, Morales’s reputation was tanking there, too.
Ejection from the Rectory
Upon Dowgiert’s arrival, Morales departed for a six-week vacation with his alleged live-in boyfriend, Carlos Insignares, leaving the parish in Dowgiert’s care. Dowgiert was soon approached by a deacon who expressed concern about Morales’s handling of church money. As Dowgiert was responsible for signing church checks during Morales’s absence, he began carefully questioning Morales’s secretary about the checks’ purposes. According to the lawsuit, the secretary was greatly discomfited, and interrupted Morales’s vacation to tell him about Dowgiert’s snooping. And so Dowgiert and Morales’s relationship was strained before it had rightly begun.
Not long after, Dowgiert claims he received a visit from Monsignor William Hennessey, Archbishop Favalora’s hatchet man, who asked that Dowgiert cease spending his off-days in the church rectory. This was an unusual request, as Dowgiert lived in the rectory. Dowgiert protested; he had nowhere else to go. Hennessey told him to get a hotel room. According to the lawsuit, “[Dowgiert] understood this to mean that Morales wanted to be alone with his homosexual lover.”
Dowgiert’s relationship with Morales suffered after his ejection from the rectory, and allegedly ceased to exist after Morales’s boyfriend came to the church to conduct a “training exercise” and insulted Dowgiert in front of other parish employees. In 2004, Morales sent a letter to Favalora accusing Dowgiert of alcoholism, cruelty, and crudity; his letter was substantiated by several accompanying notes from parish staff, all of whom reported Dowgiert’s strange words from his first week at All Saints as evidence of his bitter, un-Catholic outlook: “Don’t remind me of my ordination.” Hennessey summoned Dowgiert to discuss the charges, and informed Dowgiert he was to be sent away for treatment. According to the lawsuit, Dowgiert asked to speak to a lawyer, at which point Hennessey verbally terminated Dowgiert’s employment.
Hennessey (inset) and Favalora. (Photos via Getty, Miami Archdiocese)
Andrew Dowgiert was, most claim, a good priest; a priest who had never been in trouble, who saved St. Justin Martyr when its pastor was nabbed for boy-rape. A great many of All Saints most devout senior parishioners liked and admired him. They wondered: Why was the Archdiocese defending a non-celibate homosexual with a history of unpriestly behavior, and casting aside a devout, heroic priest who’d single-handedly rescued one of its parishes?
First they wondered privately. Then they wondered aloud. When a lay minister at All Saints named Gloria Luca was fired for wondering too loudly, they sought answers. Christifidelis was born.
Sharon Bourassa, Christifidelis’ founder, is an attorney who works entirely pro-bono, providing lawyerly aid to the poor. She represented Dowgiert in his lawsuit. The suit was unsuccessful (the judge decided the Catholic church has the right to be as skeazy as it wants), but yielded interesting things.
During a pre-trial investigation, for example, it emerged that Anibal Morales and his alleged boyfriend, Carlos Insignares, bought a house together on SW 13th Street, in Miami, where they cohabitated on Morales’s days off; that Morales had granted Insignares power of attorney; that Insignares made extensive use of a gay hookup site called Bear411; and that Insignares was (and presumably still is) uncircumsized. The printout at right was discovered in the trash outside of Morales’s and Insignares’ home.
This photodocumentary evidence, along with filings from Dowgiert’s lawsuit, make up a large portion of the document called “Miami Vice,” the introduction to which reads, in part:
In accordance with the rights and duties guaranteed them by the Catholic tradition, the faithful of the Archdiocese of Miami wish to make known to their pastors at Rome the spiritual condition which they find themselves in in the aforementioned Archdiocese. To the point, it has come to their attention that there exists among the clergy of the Archdiocese a ‘gay’ superculture which fosters active homosexual activity, the misspending and misdirecting of parish funds, and the persecution of those (clergy and laity) who question this type of activity…
What follows are hundreds of pages of documentation divided into nine chapters and four appendices, consisting mostly of anonymous testimony accusing various diocesan priests of wanton promiscuity and financial misdeeds over the course of Favalora’s reign. These testimonies were compiled with the help of concerned Floridian Catholics, priests and laity alike, with a great deal to lose if their involvement with Christifidelis became public. Which is why the accusations are generally accompanied by statements like this one: “The primary source for this information is the above-mentioned priest-brother, whose name and contact information will be made available upon request.”
That is, “upon request” from a Catholic official of the appropriate rank. The intended audience for “Miami Vice” was never the press. It was the Vatican. “We’re defending the Church,” says Eric Giunta, an ex-seminarian and contributor to “Miami Vice.” “It’s essential to remember—the last thing we wanted was to hurt her.”
Christifidelis was initially hopeful. In 2006, Bourassa received a visit from a Vatican official she cannot name. (She told Giunta the visitor was a Cardinal, but that’s all.) The visitor listened sympathetically, and promised to investigate. Bourassa heard no more. Giunta says he convinced Bourassa to unleash “Miami Vice” upon the press at the end of 2008, when, at the far extremity of pious desperation, he decided only a public scandal might spur the Church to action. Neither Giunta nor Bourassa had any way of knowing that even as they hounded reporters, Favalora was packing his bags. When Favalora announced his retirement, they realized their mistake. After February, 2010, the world’s journalists would hear no more from Christifidelis. They weren’t about to make Wenski’s life any harder by siccing some gutter-brained reporter on the Archdiocese at the most fragile stage of its recovery. Which is why, of all the members of Christifidelis, only Eric Giunta is now willing to go on record, and only reluctantly.
Why? “Because Wenski’s not moving fast enough,” he says. “He’s walking a fine line.” Giunta suggests that Wenski, though “a very good Bishop” who probably “wants to do the right thing,” is hemmed in by political considerations. “If you walk into the Archdiocese and fire everybody,” he says, “there’s going to be a scandal.” Giunta is willing to talk, he says, because scandal might “allow [Wenski] more freedom to act.”
Though it’s easy to imagine Giunta wants the Archdiocese to squirm for more personal reasons, too.
“They’re still there.”
The bulk of Eric Giunta’s contribution to “Miami Vice” takes the form of a letter addressed to “His Eminence Zenon Cardinal Grocholewski, Prefect, Congregation for Catholic Education and Seminaries” in Vatican City. When he wrote it, Giunta was a 22-year-old at a tragic impasse.
He had embraced conservative Catholicism in his teens, and in 2004 felt a calling to the priesthood. Giunta applied to Saint John Vianney at the beginning of 2005. In March, he began the standard battery of interviews to which prospective seminarians are subjected.
Giunta should have aced the interviews. At the time, he attended mass up to three times a week. His bedtime reading consisted of Thomas Aquinas, Thomas More, the aging then-Cardinal Ratzinger, and Augustine. You’d think such enthusiasms would excite the headhunters of a religion facing a demographic crisis, but no. One of his interviewers, Father Juan Sosa, spent his interview chatting to Giunta about Broadway musicals and the Oscar-night parties in his rectory. Another interviewer, Father Thomas O’Dwyer, wanted to talk about sodomy.
He asked Giunta if he would feel comfortable sharing a bedroom with a homosexual seminarian. Giunta allowed that he might not feel comfortable, but that he would cope. “[O’Dwyer] pressed this issue,” says Giunta, “and I remember my exact words: ‘In this as in all things, I submit to the prudential judgment of my superiors, insofar as they act in accord with the law and teaching of the Church.'” Asked how he’d feel sharing a rectory with a gay pastor, Giunta says he repeated that answer verbatim. “I told him the truth. I said: ‘Father, I’ve known people who attended St. John Vienney, and I’ve heard rumors that until very recently there were certain behaviors there that might not be conducive to the living out of the evangelical counsels.’ Father O’Dwyer said: ‘They’re still there.'”
He told O’Dwyer that he wasn’t worried. The new Pope would soon initiate an “apostolic visitation” (that’s when the Vatican sends out a heavy to make sure the global Church is behaving), and Giunta was confident any egregious lapses of orthodoxy would be addressed.
“And then [O’Dwyer] chuckled,” says Giunta, “and said something like, ‘Don’t get your hopes up.’ And then he said: ‘Eric my boy, if the Holy Father were to get rid of every gay priest, this Archdiocese could run—’ and then he paused, and said, ‘ten parishes.'” There are 118 parishes in the Archdiocese of Miami.
Eric Giunta never made it to to the rest of his interviews. In April, Giunta was rejected via email. A follow-up letter explained he’d been disqualified by a faulty “understanding of priestly ministry and Church life in general.”
In his letter, Giunta wrote:
I do not know with absolute certainty that my rejection by the Miami Archdiocese was motivated by malice. Out of charity, I am giving all parties the benefit of the doubt. However, given what was revealed to me during the process about the prevalence of homosexuality in the Archdiocese of Miami …. along with the ambiguous reasons for my rejection, I thought I’d make my experience known to you and to those others in the hierarchy under whose jurisdiction these ecclesiastical institutions fall.
Not long after his rejection from St. John Vianney, a mutual acquaintance introduced Eric Giunta to Sharon Bourassa.
The Archdiocese, In Brief
When told about Giunta’s interview with O’Dwyer, most of the sources consulted for this story were skeptical, suspecting either hyperbole on O’Dwyer’s part or total fabrication on Giunta’s. “I have a hard time believing O’Dwyer would say something like that,” says Peter Fuchs, who was at St. John Vianney with O’Dwyer. “These things aren’t discussed in the open. In a formal interview? For someone to say that? No way.”
But Fuchs and almost everyone else agrees that the information allegedly revealed by O’Dwyer is basically sound. “You certainly couldn’t run the Archdiocese without gay clergy,” says a former diocesan priest. “Not the Archdiocese of Miami or any other one.”
How gay is the Archdiocese of Miami? And, in particular, how gay was it under Archbishop Favalora? “Miami Vice” goes into great detail on the subject. It would probably be wrong to name names without Sharon Bourassa’s sources around to offer corroboration, but even an overview shorn of identifying information paints a vivid picture.
As of 2005:
- A priest who’s been previously mentioned in this story was known to plan regular “sleepovers” with seminarians at his rectory in southwest Miami, and owned a “luxury” property.
- A homosexual priest in Coral Gables owned “luxury” property and regularly used illicit drugs.
- A homosexual priest who served as principal at one of the Archdiocese’s high schools poached sexual partners from among the seminarians at St. John Vianney.
- A homosexual priest in far, far south Miami kept attractive young men living in his rectory.
- A homosexual priest in the town of Miramar was co-habitating with his lover, who’s also a parishioner.
- A homosexual priest in Miami had a lover who was also a priest in the Florida Keys. They co-owned a condominium at a Yacht Club.
- A member of the Archdiocesan Tribunal owned a condominium on ritzy Bayshore Drive, in Miami, with his male lover.
- An Archdiocesan official, previously mentioned in this article, sought out “young boys from third-world countries, from unprivileged backgrounds, and recruited them for the Archdiocese’s seminaries. These men [were] groomed to engage in sexual relationships with the older homosexual priests of the Archdiocese.” Until 1998, this official owned a home with a male lover in northern Miami.
- Two homosexual priests, each with his own Miami parish, co-habitated in Miami Shores.
- Two homosexual priests, each with his own parish, were lovers; one liked to go shopping “with the girls” on Lincoln Road for feminine cosmetics; the other used to date one of the Archdiocese’s male IT personnel.
- A homosexual priest in Sunny Isles liked to jog nude on the gay-dominated, clothing-optional beach at nearby Haulover Park.
- A monsignor liked to flash his willy at young men.
- A monsignor slept with his female (!) parishioners.
- A priest got busted attempting to buy sex from an undercover male cop.
- A homosexual priest pissed off parishioners by using a banana to demonstrate proper condom usage to young children, contrary to the birth-control method prescribed by the Church (abstinence).
- More recently, an associate pastor had received full pastorship at a church in the Florida Keys after being caught en flagrante delecto with his male lover—while the person who caught him, a Philippino priest, was booted from the Archdiocese.
- And these are just the priests about whom something unusual has been said. It excludes the many who were merely non-celibate homosexuals, or who have been accused only of embezzling money. And it excludes the 33 Miami priests (and one nun) accused of criminal sexual abuse. (Of course, there is some overlap.)
It’s unlikely that all of these allegations are true, and of the ones that are, it’s unlikely that all are symptomatic of corruption or moral depravity. But some must be. Perhaps the most difficult allegations to explain away are those which have attached themselves to two particular individuals, whose names were repeated again and again in interviews and in the pages of “Miami Vice”: Monsignor William Hennessey and the erstwhile mentor of Peter P. Fuchs, Father Bernie Kirlin.
Monsignor Hennesey’s Bondage Gear
“He’s a sweet man, very kind,” says a diocesan priest of Bill Hennessey, which is what just about everyone says of the man. Nicest guy in the diocese, and maybe the most corrupt.
Bill Hennessey spent much of the 70’s and 80’s as the principal of Monsignor Pace Senior High School, in Miami Gardens, where one of his employees was a young Bill O’Reilly—the shouty Fox News talking head was a history teacher there before he got his start. Hennessey allegedly stole a great deal of money from Pace in a variety of canny ways—for instance, by siphoning money from a trust fund set up for a quadriplegic student. (The student eventually brought charges against Hennessey, some of which stuck.)
When Favalora arrived in the Archdiocese, “the finances were a mess” at Pace High, according to the former diocesan priest, and Hennessey was quietly removed from his position and replaced with his good friend Dr. Richard Perhla. Hennessey was installed as Favalora’s “Vicar General”—a kind of Archdiocesan enforcer, who wields the Archbishop’s power and acts in his stead.
Meanwhile, Hennessey lived in a condominium in Quayside Towers, in Miami Beach, with a man who was almost certainly his lover. (They had mutual rights of survivorship.) He maintained a friendship with Perhla—himself a gay man with a live-in-lover—and remained on the high school’s board of directors. He was joined there by another friend, a physician named Dr. Jerome Waters, who handled physical examinations for Pace students trying out for sports teams. Waters was gay too. In the mid-90’s, one of his young lovers apparently shot one of his ex-lovers to death on his lawn.
For years, two rumors about Bill Hennessey circulated endlessly through the Archdiocese. The first was of his passion for bondage gear. The other involved his funky financial relationship with the local high schools, and in particular with the brand-new Archbishop McCarthy High, of which his close friend Dr. Richard Perhla was the first-ever principle. “There was some kind of stink there, with Hennessey acting as a ‘consultant,'” says a diocesan priest. “They’d talk on the phone, Hennessey and Perhla—and remember, these guys are great friends—and then Hennessey would bill Perhla for his time.” Money for nothing.
When Archbishop Wenski assumed control of the Miami Archdiocese, he immediately initiated an audit of the local high schools. The results of the audit have not been published, but they mustn’t have been good: Just before the beginning of the recent school year, Perhla was sacked from Archbishop McCarthy High, and was allegedly escorted from the premises by security. Monsignor Hennessey announced his retirement a month later.
A Late-Night Shredding Party
Like Bill Hennessey, Bernie Kirlin’s career has been dogged by rumors of financial ill deeds. After he was ejected from a seminarian’s bed at St. John Vianney, Kirlin served as a pastor in the Keys, and then in a Miami ghetto. In 1999, Favalora appointed him to lead the congregation at St. Augustine, in Coral Gables, where he replaced Father Terrence Hogan, himself a former employee of St. John Vianney and alleged non-celibate homosexual.
Hogan was much beloved of his congregation, not least of all because of his rigid fiscal discipline. Every month in the parish bulletin, Hogan published a list of the church’s expenses and a summary of its balance sheet. When he departed St. Augustine, the parish was more than $2 million in the black. Good thing, too: the physical church had fallen into considerable disrepair. “We did very little to help the church building,” says Maria Diaz, a former member of St. Augustine’s Pastoral Council. “We never believed in spending money on brick and mortar. We wanted to help people.”
Kirlin’s first act upon assuming leadership of the parish was to cease publicizing the church’s finances. When Kirlin left eleven years later, his replacement was shocked to discover St. Augustine was $1 million in the red.
No one knows for sure how St. Augustine came to this sad impasse, but speculation must take into account a number of awkward facts, including Kirlin’s purchase, in 2002, of a condominium on Brickell Avenue, a glittering stretch of road a few hundred yards from Biscayne Bay. The condo cost $307,000. (In 2002, the average American diocesan priest made $30,000 per year.)
Three years later, an employee of Kirlin’s accused him of embezzling church moneys, thereby initiating an internal audit—which was supervised, in part, by Kirlin’s long-time friend and alleged boyfriend Monsignor Michael Souckar, whom Kirlin had first met on that long-ago night when he treated Souckar, Peter P. Fuchs, and another “hot” St. John Vianney student to dinner. During the audit, Kirlin allegedly threw a late-night paper shredding party in the rectory. Then he fired his accuser, who in turn sued the Archdiocese for violating whistle-blower protection laws. The Archdiocese settled out of court, and the plaintiff was compelled to sign a non-disparagement agreement. She would not comment for this story.
Favalora resigned eight months before attaining the age of 75—the age at which Archbishops customarily tender their resignations. A friend of his replacement says she knows why. “For ages [the Vatican] had been begging [Bishop Thomas] Wenski to come and clean up Favalora’s mess, but Wenski wouldn’t work with the man. He said ‘Favalora’s got to go before I come down there.'” So Favalora went.
The September after Favalora’s ouster (if it was indeed an ouster), the Miami Herald ran a brief item detailing some of the changes instituted in the Archdiocese during the first few months of Wenski’s reign. Mostly, it was a matter of priest-shuffling; moving clerics from one parish to another.
The priests named in “Miami Vice” were disproportionately well-represented in the Herald’s account of the shuffle. Of the 35 priests accused by name in the binder, seven had retired already. Of those remaining, most have been reassigned.
Wenski shuffled personnel at all levels of the diocese. Souckar was sent to Rome to pursue “advanced studies.” Morales, the All Saints pastor who clashed with Dowgiert, was demoted to “parochial vicar.” So was another priest accused of keeping a boyfriend in the rectory. According to canon law, such demotions are very grave. According to custom, they are very rare.
Dowgiert has disappeared. A background check suggests he may have spent some time in Washington state before dropping off the map. Maybe he’s in Poland.
Big questions remain in the Archdiocese. Arguably the worst pedophile priest ever arrested in the United States, Neil Doherty, is a St. John Vianney alum who spent most of his career in Florida. He served as the seminary’s vocational director under Robert Lynch. For thirty years, Doherty raped child after child, drugging them with alcohol and Qualudes and sodomizing them until they bled. He was one of Kirlin’s closest friends, and enjoyed sleepovers in his condo. How much did Kirlin know? Souckar? Favalora?
The Church isn’t talking, but it may be acting. Apart from priest-shuffling, there is a rumor circulating among South Floridian clerics that Archbishop Wenski has hired private investigators to monitor Miami’s priests. Christifidelis lays low, hoping it’s true; that the Archdiocese’s long orgy of sodomy and illicit cash is finished. If not, we’ll be hearing from them again.
Additional reporting by Penn Bullock