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BUFFALO, N.Y. (ChurchMilitant.com) - The rector of the seminary in the diocese of Buffalo, New York has suddenly stepped aside amid allegations of homosexual assault.
Church Militant has confirmed that Fr. Joseph Gatto, president-rector of Christ the King Seminary, announced on Wednesday that he was taking an immediate leave of absence and Bp. Richard Malone of Buffalo has appointed an interim rector, Fr. John M. Staak, O.M.I. Local news outlet WBKW is reporting that, on the same day Gatto announced he was leaving his post, it became privy to allegations of Gatto homosexually grooming a young man during a counseling session.
On Thursday, WBKW broke the news that it had obtained a copy of the complaint against Gatto filed Wednesday with the diocese. According to the complaint, the local man approached Gatto for spiritual counseling in 2000. He states in the complaint that Gatto "quickly befriended me, and shortly thereafter made unwanted sexual advances toward me."
Church Militant 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 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.