The Official vs. the Unofficial Story of the Early Retirement of Miami’s Archbishop

Miami Archbishop John Favalora announced an early retirement on April 20, only eight months before he was set to reach the normal episcopal retirement age of 75. Despite the fact that the Vatican usually only accepts early resignations for serious illness or another “grave cause,” the official explanation given by Archbishop Favalora himself says he is in “good health,” and presents no other “grave reason” for the unexpected retirement.

Meanwhile, a group of lay Catholics in the archdiocese has revealed communications that they have had with the Vatican regarding an alleged gay cabal of priests that the group claims is veritably running the archdiocese, and suggests that this situation is the real cause of the early retirement. The group says that the Vatican has investigated its claims, and found them to be well-founded.

The archbishop’s April 20 resignation notice ran simply, “I was permitted to tender my resignation and I receive the Holy Father’s blessing in accord with canon 401, § 2.

“While I reiterate that I still enjoy good health, I also recognize that I no longer have the stamina and spirit of earlier years. Moreover, I recognize that the current challenges facing the Archdiocese now could benefit from new eyes and fresh insights and energies.”

However, Eric Guinta, one of the researchers that formed the group Christifidelis, a lay “watchdog” organization in the diocese, says that the sudden retirement is almost certainly the consequence of a document that his group submitted to the Vatican in 2006. That document was “an exhaustive report (hundreds of pages of text, documentation, and eye witness accounts) detailing and documenting” what he calls a “culture of sodomy and theological heterodoxy” on the part of as many as a majority of priests of the Miami Archdiocese.

Guinta reports that Sharon Baroussa, an attorney and a member of Christifidelis, represented a priest, Rev. Andrew Dowgiert, in a lawsuit filed against the archdiocese in 2005. “Fr. Dowgiert, on loan from a Polish archdiocese and soon to be incardinated in Miami, alleged that he was ‘fired’ from active ministry in the Miami Archdiocese after whistle-blowing on homosexual activity by several pastors of the Archdiocese,” he says.

That lawsuit served as the launchpad for the investigations during which Christifidelis gathered the information that it included in its lengthy report submitted to the Vatican.

Guinta says that after the group submitted its report on the alleged corruption in the Miami archdiocese, Baroussa, “was contacted by a Vatican monsignor, who met with her in person and assured her that the Holy See would be investigating each and every one of the allegations presented in the report.”  He adds that in the fall of 2006, “this monsignor contacted her again, informing her that our allegations had all been vindicated, and that Rome was going to act on the report.”

With the early retirement of Archbishop Favalora, claims Guinta, “Rome has finally acted, and in doing so has vindicated” the faithful Catholics who in exposing the scandals, “suffered tremendous persecution and ostracization for defending the integrity of the Catholic Church’s doctrine, liturgy, and moral witness.”

See Guinta’s full report here.

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