In a puzzling and potentially reckless move, two Buffalo diocesan priests who are accused, in a civil lawsuit, of molesting a child have been put back into ministry.
If history is any guide, we suspect this is a decision that may well come back to haunt Bishop Edward Scharfenberger.
His public relations staff claim that the accusations against the two priests “could not be substantiated.”
But when you enter the names of the two “accused but just re-instated” priests – Fr. Peter Popadick and Fr. Paul Nogaro – into the diocesan website search box, nothing comes up about them ever having been accused or suspended.
That raises an obvious question: If church officials apparently didn’t even announce that these two priests were accused of abuse in a lawsuit, how hard did they work to ‘substantiate’ the charges against them?”
The Buffalo diocese says its ‘investigation’ was thwarted because the accuser supposedly would not ‘cooperate’ with them. https://bit.ly/2FYMQi2
That raises another question: Had the accuser of these clerics died, would the diocese just have given up trying to determine whether his or her allegations had merit?
Think about the Jeffrey Epstein case. Even after his death, efforts at determining the truth about him and achieving justice continue. Shouldn’t Catholic officials work to determine whether Fr. Popadick and Fr. Nogaro are potentially dangerous EVEN IF their accuser prefers to disclose his experiences in a courtroom instead of in the chancery office?
And assuming they’re telling the truth, given the horrific track record of the Buffalo diocese in particular and the Catholic church in general with abuse, can anyone really blame a victim for choosing NOT to trust a church official or a church committee?
In their announcement about putting Fr. Popadick and Fr. Nogaro back on the job, Buffalo church officials make a curious omission: They don’t mention that the accuser of these two priests also accused two OTHER clerics of abuse: Fr. Frank J. Tuchols and a “Fr. Mike.” (In 1995 Tuchols was caught in a sting by the DEA buying crack cocaine.)
Why this ‘oversight?’ It does little to inspire faith in Bishop Scharfenberger’s promises of ‘transparency.’
The plaintiff says his abuse happened at St. Mary of Sorrows and at Bishop Fallon High School. When he filed suit, Fr. Nogaro was at St. Stephen Church on Grand Island and Fr. Popadick was at St. Aloysius.
We hope that anyone who works or worships at those parishes will step forward if they know of or suspect abuse.
We also hope his suit brings this plaintiff healing.
Finally, we hope Buffalo Catholics will demand some further explanations from their bishop.