The Diocese of Jefferson City

A Case Study of Clergy Sexual Abuse

Monday, November 22, 2010

Childproof 12: Msgr. Higley's Shame, Part 4

Page 12

Editor’s Note: To protect the identity of certain students who attended the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, all names placed in square brackets are pseudonyms.

Dear Bishop Gaydos:

Pantomime Dame: Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke
Recently, your good
friend, the former
archbishop of St. Louis,
got another promotion.
The Vatican tossed a
red hat to
Leo Burke
, who in 2008
was named Prefect of
the Supreme Tribunal
of the Apostolic Signatura,
or chief justice of the
Vatican Supreme Court. 

The elevation of Burke,
the pantomime dame of
the American hierarchy,
to the College of Cardinals
is a scandal unto itself. 
Burke is the archetype of
the criminal accomplice.  He is a dandified Church careerist who achieved success by protecting child molesters.  He is an avaricious clergyman with a gluttonous appetite for money as we witnessed in his attempt to steal the treasury of St. Stanislaus Kostka (in 2005 the parishes total assets, including its eight acre parcel, was valued at $9.5 million).  Burke is an episcopal sycophant reminiscent of the Pius IX: a man with a fetish for silken lamé, lace, and other fancy dress for the sanctuary.   

The legacy of Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke as archbishop of
St. Louis
 is a carbuncle that continues to fester under the
leadership of Archbishop Robert J. Carlson.  One need only consider Burke's long-standing relationship with the so-called Vianney Renewal Center (also known as RECON) in Dittmer, Mo., to understand his attitude toward the survivors of pedophile priests.  As with like Lewis Carroll's Red Queen, Burke believes the Church mission is merely a chess game to be won at all costs:  “It takes all the running you can do to keep in
the same place.  If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

Cardinal Burke is a crystalline element that can be affixed to
the story of Msg. Gregory L. Higley, Msgr. Stephen C. Bosso, and
the Rev. Michael R. Christensen in that he represents just how
little the clerical environment has changed since the 1974, let
alone in the last 10 years.  Burke, in fact, operates from the
same manifesto today that was used by the Josephinum administration.  And, so, we continue . . . .

The Josephinum:  Msgr. Mouch’s Failure of Duty
Msgr. Frank M. Mouch, as rector of the Josephinum, failed to protect Msgr. Higley, Msgr. Bosso, and Father Christensen during the crises that unfolded tragically during his tenure. 

He built his career as an educator in Florida, working in various dioceses as the Church sub-divided territory to service the expanding Catholic population in the state.  In the 60’s and 70’s he was affiliated with the archdiocese of Miami; worked as the assistant chancellor of the diocese of St. Augustine, and served as the editor
of Florida Catholic.  In 1969, he was supervisor of education for the
St. Petersburg diocese. 

As rector of the Pontifical College Josephinum, Msgr. Frank M. Mouch
maintained a laissez-faire policy toward predatory faculty and administrators.
In turn, Mouch terrorized students damaged by the culture of abuse in order
to maintain the secrecy of the warped seminary environment.

Mouch’s Josephinum tenure is an abject failure: a situation that led to his retreat to Florida rather than a promotion as bishop.  He was president (1987-1996) of St. Leo College, a backwater academic institution in rural Florida that fancies itself as a center of higher learning.  Mouch, in a surprise twist of fate, was president board of trustees at of the St. Vincent de Paul Seminary, Boynton Beach, throughout Bosso’s tenure as rector (serving with the Rev. Michael Houle).  In 2008, Mouch retired from the diocese of St. Petersburg as secretary for pastoral programs. 

Although Burke’s arc burns brighter as the Millennium marches onward while Mouch’s moulders in retirement in Venice, Fla., both clerics cling to the same manifesto of secrecy and silence in the face of criminal violence against children and vulnerable adults.  Mouch characterized this philosophy in an interview on the topic of scandal and church with the St. Petersburg Times in 2002:

“I don't know any priest who, even if he has done something bad,
has not done more good with his priesthood. If you can save a man, save his priesthood and his parish, then certainly that would be the best scenario.

In a photograph dated 23 November 1974, Msgr. Frank Mouch posed with members
of the St. Thomas senior class for Bishop Anthony J. O’Connell on the steps of the
entrance to the Josephinum.  Source:  The Anchor, 1975, p. 44.

The Josephinum:  The Perverse Story Continues
The story of Msgr. Gregory L. Higley, Msgr. Stephen C. Bosso, and the Rev. Michael R. Christensen unfolded tragically from the Fall of 1973 through the Spring 1975.

Msgr. Frank M. Mouch was appointed PCJ rector in August 1974. Like his predecessor, Msgr. Thomas Campbell, Mouch was concerned with career advancement: an eye always focused on the miter and crosier. Mouch was also was a trained pilot, fixated on aviation and mesmerized by luxury. But career advancement stalled for some reason, which led to a transition as president of St. Leo College (1987-1996), near Tampa, Fla., and later as a member of Bosso’s board of trustees at St. Vincent de Paul Seminary, Boynton Beach, Fla. (serving with the Rev. Michael Houle).

The 22 January 1978 issue of The Eagle of Reading, Penn., noted
Msgr. Frank Mouch’s hobby.

Bosso was recalled to the Josh in August 1974 to discuss his knowledge of the substance abuse crisis among the student population as well as the details of the Easter assault.

Christensen again provides the information in a letter dated
17 August 1974:

“Bosso says he’s telling [the Rev.] Pacheco, dean of men in theology, and he's also telling [Father] Schubert more, I guess.  I immediately dispatched Stephen an advisement warning him that the righteous are usually screwed by the administration and the faculty at PCJ, and not the sinner.  Stephen is so rash.”

In his 17 August 1974 letter, Christensen discloses Msgr. Bosso’s intention
to report the Easter 1974 incident to Father Pacheco.
Christensen logs another entry, dated Tuesday Afternoon,
10 September 1974, about the philosophical battle that engaged students with the administration regarding the appropriate corrective action and support for those in distress due to the embedded culture of abuse:

“Stephen B. did fly up [from Pensacola] to speak with the Rector, but all he told him about was [‘Tracy Cowell’ and the Easter sexual assault]. The Rector questioned Stephen about drinking, though, concerning himself only . . . .

“A faculty member told me that Msgr. Durst knows about the ‘unmentionable problem,’ as does Msgr. Fick.  Likewise, Mouch
told Stephen that he (Stephen) isn’t the first to inform him of this type of ‘behavior.’”

Sharing a Story:  Yours Truly (clockwise, top left), Msgr.
Gregory L. Higley, the Rev. Michael R. Christensen, and
Msgr. Stephen C. Bosso shared in letters and conversation
the culture of abuse as it existed at the Pontifical College
Josephinum between 1972 and 1975 and beyond.

The Josephinum: A Stage for Scandal
Unwittingly, the students hoped for a better tomorrow.

Higley maintained a close relationship with Fuller as did Bosso, Christensen, and I.  Each of us confided to the others the hurt and pain we experienced as this shared correspondence of the 1974-1975 school term underscores.

But now the stage was set for the disastrous conclusion of the 1973-1974 term when the students returned to PCJ in August of 1974 and slowly discovered the reality of sexual relationship between Gregory Fuller and “Ambrose Parish.”

Christensen’s observation of the state of affairs is laid out in a letter dated 3 October 1974:

“Lately, my emotional condition can be described s one of moody, brooding, sighing but not aching, longing but not desire. Actually, if I felt like crying, I’d be in an improved mood! What I mean is that I’m too sad to cry. I’m disappointed in myself as much as in anyone else, and I also realized my own limitations, as well as understanding the reality of situations.

Christensen describes his sadness about the Josephinum environment in letter
dated 3 October 1974. He also notes the Rev. Michael Houle celebrated his
21st birthday with a party at REX's apartment.

“There isn’t anyone to talk to who can say as you used to “I know what you mean.

“Right now I’m realistic enough to know [that] . . . at 21 I guess such obvious things are as far above me, as thing now were above me in
high school.

“I’m not depressed, just a little sad. I’m not lonely, just kind of alone – in the midst of plenty. . . . Our ‘clic’ is kind of made up of six people that are sad for personal PCJ reasons.

“This is one of those times when it would be nice if someone told me
what to do.”

Christensen further analyzes the issues in a letter dated Saturday,
17 August 1974:

“Last night I wondered how I’d get the courage to go back to PCJ. Then I realized that I would never get the courage, but that I am simply resigned to the necessity of finishing there.

“As T.S. Eliot wrote: ‘Pray for us now and at the hour of our birth!’”

The Josephinum: Manipulating Secrets
In a letter dated 16 December 1974, Christensen writes:

“Fuller is the same – upset over his ‘marriage’ with [Ambrose Parish]. . . . [Ambrose] and I made peace at a summit conference (2 hrs.) in which he apologized and I retracted nothing. I have been ‘cautious’ with him.”

Christensen follows up his assessment of Fuller in a bombshell letter dated 1 February 1975, Christensen writes:

“Well, you might as well hear the worst – this is so terrible that must throw this letter away – Fuller and [Ambrose Parish] turned out to be gay. It was going on for one and half years.

Msgr. Christensen begins to detail further crises at the Josephinum in his letter
dated Saturday Nite, 1 February 1975.
“Fuller told me, then Bosso, and we tried to get to go voluntarily,
but he went MENTAL and Higley got [Ambrose] to confess but only after they tried to get me kicked out for slander (!), and the rector conducted an investigation and we were all in his office privately, etc. Bosso, G. Higley, and I acted under Fr. Huntzinger’s advice.
Well, [Ambrose] and Fuller both were told to leave or get kick out.

“So . . . As always keep this quiet and Fr. O’C knows as does
Fr. Kalin because we called our V.D.’s before things got involved
with the rector [Mouch].

The Josephinum: Details of a Scandal
“As I said [Greg and Ambrose] had an affair for one and half years. It started in October 1973. [Ambrose] had a suite so it was kind of easy to get away with. As I think back though, I remembered going in one day (early morning) and found them both there; one sleeping on the bed and one on a sleeping bag on the floor. They were caught sucking each other by a frosh last year, but the kid didn’t do anything about it! Gonzales says Fuller seldom came to his own room before 2:00-3:00 a.m. (F and Gonz[ales] were potty pals.)

Details of the Gregory Fuller-Ambrose Parish Episode.
“They also did this during vacations to [Ambrose’s] house (2 times), and on their summer vacation to Chicago and at PCJ when they painted F’s room. In fact, they were still doing it up till Mon.,
Jan. 3, 1975. We found out Sat., Jan. 8, ’75. No butt fucking.

“As to ‘details’ they kissed – Frenched, fondled, sucked off, licked, slept new together and showered together. The last two they did only in Chicago and at PCJ during the summer.

The Josephinum: Parents Threaten Legal Action
“When F. told [Ambrose], that I, Bosso, and Higley knew, [Ambrose] called his mother and had his family come here from their town, that very day. He told Krupp and the Rector that I had slandered him of being a homo. His mother wanted me to make a public apology and be kicked out. The same for Bosso and Higley, with no expulsion.

“I was to be called in Tues., to confront the Rector, F. and [Ambrose] But F. cracked and went with Fr. Teall and told the rector the truth. The next day – Higley [got] to [Ambrose] to go and confess, too. I had said if they didn’t voluntarily leave, I’d to the rector. I did this, as did Bosso and G. Higley under Fr. Huntzinger’s complete direction.

Msgr. Frank Mouch (far left) at the Second Annual Southeastern Gathering
(reunion) of Josephinum alumni in August 1989 at St. Petersburg Beach, Fla.
The cutline reads:  The Pilot and his passengers.  Source: The Josephinum
Newsletter magazine, Spring 1990, p. 44.

“F. got cuckoo and threatened me bodily, and put hand through a window, and drank and smoked for three days. H. tried to get into my room two times one night at 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. It was bad!

“When AAK [Father Albert A. Krupp] found out from me that he’d been duped, he tried to see [Ambrose], but couldn’t because [Ambrose] was hiding.

“[Ambrose] left Thurs. aft., Jan. 13. He was told to withdraw or be kicked out with Homo. S. on his record.

“F. wouldn’t leave, and was expelled. I don’t know what was on his record. He left Sun. morning, 7:30 a.m., Jan. 16. He left everything but his clothes here.

“The diocese agreed to pay psychiatric expenses since he had
no family.

“He went three times, but moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, last
week, and is not longer under psychiatric care.  Higley sent
[Ambrose] a letter telling him [he] lied and slandered everyone
to save his own skin . . .”

“F. hates me. [Ambrose] told Higley to tell me he understands how things had to be and wishes me luck.

“F. told me the ‘explicits’ so he could ‘explain to me why these things were so important to make him feel like a man.’ When he
told me that, I knew he’d cracked.

“Needless to say, it was a MESS!”

But the cycle of abuse continues to this day at the Josephinum. . .

Related Articles:
Burke: Abusive Priests Often End up in St. Louis
Two Americans Among New Cardinals
Burke Escalated Transfer of Pedophile Priests to St. Louis Archdiocese
Burke's Strange Relationship with ‘Abbot’ Ryan St. Anne’
Burk Gave Pedophile Priests Nationwide Special Access to St. Louis
Burke's Patronage of St. John Vianney Renewal Center/RECON
Burke's Successor, Archbishop Robert Carlson, Protected Pedophile Priests in Minnesota
St. Stanislaus Kotska: A Parish Welcome
St. Stanislaus Kotska: Perspective
St. Stanislaus Kotska: A Battle for Temporal Goods Valued at $9.5 Million

Next Time: The Story of Msgr. Higley's college career will continue.

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