BUFFALO, N.Y. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Buffalo's interim bishop Edward Scharfenberger is under scrutiny for restoring a priest who was sidelined in March for making "creepy" remarks during confession.
The diocese announced Thursday that Fr. Peter Karalus was cleared of wrongdoing in making what Erie County DA John Flynn calls "creepy" remarks to a 16-year-old boy during confession in 2011. Karalus is also resuming his position as Buffalo's vicar general.
A source connected to Buffalo's chancery told Church Militant the reinstatement of Karalus, with his checkered past to a position for which he isn't qualified, is yet another red flag against Scharfenberger.
"District Attorney John Flynn called Karalus' actions 'creepy but not criminal,'" recalled the source. "Even so, is this the kind of priest that should be in active ministry? Is this the kind of priest who should be the vicar general of the diocese?"
Church Militant reported in March that Karalus' checkered past includes allegations of grooming boys while pastor of St. John Paul II parish in Lakeview/Hamburg, New York, according to the Buffalo insider. Church Militant obtained a copy of a letter drafted by the late Fr. Joseph Moreno and addressed to former U.S. papal nuncio Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò that contains these allegations against Karalus.
Speaking in March of Moreno's letter, the source stated, "I believe this letter was a part of the accumulated evidence that Fr. Joseph Moreno wanted to send to the nuncio and the Buffalo News. Unfortunately, some information may not have been received because Fr. Moreno was murdered."
Church Militant has extensively covered Moreno's so-called suicide that occurred just days before his planned public outing of a homosexual network operating within the diocese of Buffalo.
Karalus is also known to be unqualified for the position of vicar general, affirmed the source:
Karalus is canonically unqualified for the position because he does not have the required education and degree in canon law. Scharfenberger is a canon lawyer himself and should have removed Karalus from that position as soon as Malone resigned in disgrace. Now Scharfenberger has returned unqualified "creepy" Karalus to his position.
Based on what he described as Scharfenberger's past preferential treatment of Karalus, the source said he wasn't surprised the priest has not only been restored to active ministry, but also to his position as vicar general.
"When it was announced that Karalus would be investigated for an allegation of inappropriate behavior with a minor, he was not removed from active ministry like every other priest who is accused of inappropriate behavior," he noted. "The preferential treatment by Bp. Scharfenberger and the 'independent review board' was clear. Both are thoroughly corrupt."
The source brought up a previous red flag against Scharfenberger that he says renders the interim bishop as bad or worse than Buffalo's former bishop Richard Malone regarding lack of transparency in addressing clerical corruption. He references a Mass Scharfenberger concelebrated in February with accused predator priests:
This proved to be especially glaring with the "private Mass" that was held as part of a meeting to discuss bankruptcy. This Mass, meeting and catered lunch was for the priests of the diocese and included priests credibly accused of sexual abuse — the same priests who caused the diocese to declare bankruptcy in the first place! Scharfenberger staunchly defended inviting these criminals to this function and there is no doubt that Karalus was involved with the planning of this event.
Another flag raised by the source was Karalus' treatment compared to the harsh treatment of Buffalo whistleblower Fr. Ryszard Biernat. Church Militant has reported on the harsh treatment Biernat has received.
"Why is Karalus allowed to return to ministry, yet Fr. Ryszard Biernat is still being punished by the diocese for releasing information about alleged civil and canonical crimes?" asked the source.
"Scharfenberger should be outraged that Biernat is still being retaliated against for whistleblowing," he emphasized. "But instead of holding predator priests accountable, Scharfenberger still keeps a whistleblower priest's faculties suspended, and invites perverted priests to a "private Mass" and luncheon to discuss the bankruptcy that was caused by these very perverts."
The final question the source raised was why Scharfenberger didn't fire chancery staff, who were complicit in covering up sex abuse so prevalent under Malone:
It is said that when Abp. [William] Lori investigated and then took control of the corrupt Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, he fired every chancery official for NOT speaking out about the injustices and crimes committed by Bp. Michael Bransfield. Why is Scharfenberger not doing the same? Why is Cdl. [Timothy] Dolan not doing the same? Is this why Vos Estis Lux Mundi was never implemented when the diocese of Buffalo recently underwent an apostolic investigation?
The source added that from these points, it's clear that Scharfenberger and Karalus are not concerned with truth, justice, mercy or compassion for victims of clerical abuse.
"They are only concerned with protecting the reputation and assets of the clergy's 'boys club.'" He lamented. "It truly is a scandal."