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BUFFALO, N.Y. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Buffalo's Bp. Richard Malone is reinstating a priest to active ministry after deciding that credible allegations of homosexual assault against two men did not warrant permanently removing him from priestly duty.
Buffalo's WKBW is reporting the diocese determined on Thursday that Fr. Joseph Gatto is credibly accused by two men of making unwanted homosexual advances, however, Malone is choosing to reinstate Gatto because:
Gatto "underwent professional evaluation and remedial measures"
His improper conduct "did not rise to the level that would require removal from active priestly ministry"
Malone's diocese did, in fact, find Gatto guilty of the allegations leveled by two men last September, and Gatto was suspended since that time. Malone's decision also made on Thursday to reinstate Gatto to active ministry is in spite of the diocese's determination of Gatto's guilt.
Gatto last September suddenly stepped down as the president-rector of Buffalo's Christ the King Seminary when two men accused him of making unwanted sexual advances against them. One of the men filed a complaint at that time with the diocese alleging Gatto made the sexual advances when he approached him for spiritual direction in 2000.
Gatto "quickly befriended me, and shortly thereafter made unwanted sexual advances toward me," reads the complaint.
The man, who was in his 20s at the time, attests, "On one occasion [Gatto] grabbed my knee in a suggestive manner and invited me to a 'cabin' for a weekend with him alone. I declined, and ended any further communication."
Upon stepping down as rector, Gatto was then suspended from priestly ministry and sent to Southdown Institute, a psychiatric center in Toronto where the diocese sends priests who are credibly accused of sexual predation or who are dealing with other mental health issues. Gatto claimed his leave of absence had nothing to do with allegations of sexual misconduct and was stepping aside owing to stress-related work.
On one occasion [Gatto] grabbed my knee in a suggestive manner and invited me to a 'cabin' for a weekend with him alone.
In addition to this formal complaint filed against Gatto, Church Militant also learned back in September that clerical and nonclerical sources within the diocese are affirming Gatto used his position as rector of the seminary to solicit homosexual favors from new applicants to the seminary. Sources say applicants who did not comply with Gatto's requests were not admitted to the seminary program.
This disturbing pattern of alleged homosexual screening of seminarians was repeated in the story Church Militant broke last August involving Gatto, who was heavily involved in a gay pipeline that recruited homosexual seminarians from Colombia to the United States.
Church Militant last year obtained a copy of a 1998 confidential internal memo between Gatto, then vice rector of Buffalo's seminary, and Bp. Henry Mansell, then ordinary of Buffalo. In the memo, Gatto updates Mansell on the newest crop of nine seminarians from Colombia who had obtained their visas and a 10th who was still in the process.
Church Militant contacted multiple seminarians who were at Buffalo's Christ the King Seminary at the time, and two of them told Church Militant that homosexuality at the seminary under Mansell and Gatto was rampant and that some of the Colombians were actually parcelled out to parish assignments with active homosexual pastors who lavished expensive gifts, including cars, on the young gay Colombians in exchange for sex.
Two of these former seminarians confirmed to Church Militant that they left the seminary under Gatto because they were disgusted with the openly homosexual current that dominated the institution.
One of these Colombian seminarians, Ricardo J. Perillo, told Church Militant that, in 1999, Gatto was aware of certain homosexual relationships between priests and seminarians and that nearly half of the Colombian seminarians in his class — personally recruited by Gatto for Bp. Mansell — were actively gay. Blowing the whistle to Gatto on the situation, Perillo said, only got himself expelled from the seminary.
Malone's decision to rehabilitate a priest like Gatto, who was determined by the diocese to be credibly accused of homosexual predation, follows a decades-old pattern set by bishops that has led to the present crisis of clerical sex abuse now gripping the Church.