BUFFALO, N.Y. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Seven years after Fr. Joseph Moreno's death, an anonymous letter mailed from Buffalo, New York about the whistleblower priest arrived in his twin sister's mailbox.
The 18-page, handwritten letter addressed to Sue Moreno claims her brother is dead because he trusted the wrong people and even suggests that another priest is his murderer. The letter states:
Father Joe Moreno had connections to law enforcement individuals, as well as firefighters, and even in that community there were plenty of people that he shouldn't have trusted. ... I know, Sue, of your efforts to have your brother's death declared a homicide and although you have "hardcore" evidence that points in that direction, I have "circumstantial" evidence that points in that same direction.
In the fall of 2018, Church Militant covered the story extensively, including an in-depth interview with Sue Moreno. Her twin brother, Fr. Joe Moreno, a priest in the diocese of Buffalo, was found dead on Oct. 13, 2012 from a gunshot wound to the head. Medical Examiner Dianne Vertes ruled the death a suicide, and the case was closed.
At the scene of the priest's death, files were missing as well as the priest's fax machine, which had been used the night before to fax a story about priest sex abuse to a local news station.
Many other facts about the case didn't add up, including the fact that there was no gunpowder residue on his hands, nor blood spatter. At considerable personal cost, Sue Moreno had her brother's body exhumed in 2015, after which an independent autopsy revealed a second bullet wound in the skull that had been sutured shut.
In the anonymous letter, the author reveals having been an employee of St. Gregory the Great Church and School in Buffalo and being on "the inside of many of the Catholic institutions." The "circumstantial" evidence the letter provides is primarily a list of law enforcement officials and the person's knowledge of their corruption.
The letter notes Cindy Goss, president of Buffalo nonprofit Catch a Falling Star, which provides support for the community's first responders. The letter claims that Goss is the type who "will come across as very kind and understanding and sometimes so charismatic you will want to trust [her]."
The letter reveals that Goss "is often hired by law enforcement to 'console' those dealing with issues like you are. She is actually there to find out information from you on what you may know about a situation that is potentially damaging to law enforcement."
When contacted by Church Militant, Cindy Goss refused to comment on the allegation.
Church Militant has reported on the historical collusion between Buffalo's Church and civil authorities.
Speaking of his time on the force in the 1980s and 1990s, Buffalo's former vice squad detective Martin Harrington said, "The department's unwritten policy was that Catholic priests did not get arrested. ... We had priests we caught with pornography or masturbating in the city parks, and our orders were to turn them over to the Buffalo diocese. The diocese would deal with them, but they would not be arrested."
Based on the letter, the anonymous source believes the collusion Harrington described continues.
The letter twice singles out Fr. Joseph Gatto, someone the source claims he knew when they worked together at St. Gregory the Great Church and School. The anonymous source suggests Gatto was involved in Moreno's death:
As previously stated, Fr. Joseph Gatto should be removed from the priesthood and excommunicated from the Catholic Church. He should then be investigated into the possible connection of the murder of Fr. Joseph Moreno. It was obvious that he had an intense dislike for Father Moreno. Father Gatto's jovial side would change in an instant into pure anger and hatred with the mention of Fr. Moreno's name.
When Church Militant asked Fr. Gatto why someone might make such a claim, he expressed great surprise. He told Church Militant he thought Fr. Moreno "was a wonderful priest. He was very kind whenever the diocese asked for support for vocation activities."
As former rector of the seminary, Gatto was directly involved in recruitment of young men to the seminary. When asked if he had any reason to dislike Fr. Moreno, he said, "Absolutely not."
Father Gatto was suspended from ministry in 2018 following a lawsuit alleging homosexual predation of two men. The diocese confirmed the veracity of the complaints, and sent Gatto to a treatment center, but has reportedly since restored him to active ministry as senior parochial vicar at St. Leo the Great parish.
Church Militant has reported on Gatto's recruitment of homosexual seminarians from South America, his use of his position as rector of the seminary to solicit homosexual favors from new applicants to the seminary, and other scandals. At least one seminarian who attempted to report Gatto found himself expelled.
As Sue Moreno tries to keep alive the story of her brother's murder, she is well acquainted with kind words from sympathizers, and the corruption within the diocese and law enforcement. She's been told a re-creation of the shooting could provide the evidence she needs to get the cause of death changed from suicide to homicide, but she doesn't have the money to cover the cost. While the anonymous letter was the source of some encouragement, it doesn't help her change the official cause of death.
Sue and her twin brother's father is still living, but he is frail and close to death. He recently has had two heart surgeries. Sue told Church Militant, "He screams Joey's name every night. He wants the murderer found!"
She is desperate to have the case properly investigated: "I'm tired of hearing about all the good Joey did. Then, fight for him!"
Sue is accepting donations to hire an expert to do a forensic re-creation of the crime scene and obtain justice for her brother.