Catholic Vicar General in Buffalo Placed on Leave Following Accusations of Abuse
The second highest ranking official in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo has been placed on leave following accusations of sexual abuse. Given how scandal-ridden the Buffalo area was under former Bishop Richard Malone’s tenure, we are not surprised by this development. Once again, it seems to us that intervention from outside, secular law enforcement is definitely in order
The allegations against Fr. Peter Karulus stem from a report that he abused a minor in 2011. This is yet another case that belies Catholic officials’ claims that sex abuse is a problem from the 1970s and 1980s. It takes tremendous courage for a survivor to come forward, especially at a young age. It is even more challenging – and courageous – when the accused is as powerful as Fr. Karulus. False allegations of sexual abuse are extremely rare. The victim in this case should be celebrated for bring more truth to light in Buffalo.
According to the Dallas Charter, Fr. Karulus should be restricted in his ministry. We are confused why his priestly faculties have not yet been removed, and we call on Diocesan Administrator, Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, to immediately take action and suspend Fr. Karulus while the investigations by Erie County police and the Diocese continue.
It is not all that unusual for a powerful priest, vicar general or bishop to be accused of abuse. More than 40 bishops who worked in US dioceses have faced allegations. Many have stepped down as a result. A recent example is Auxiliary Bishop John Jenik from New York. Others, like Bishop Joseph Hart in Cheyenne, are being criminally investigated.
What everyone should bear in mind is that these very powerful men who have been accused also have some level of control and influence on all sexual abuse investigations where they worked. Fr. Karulus had that power in Buffalo, and this makes it even more important that secular law enforcement be at the center of all investigations. We already know former Bishop Malone mislead the public about the number of abusers in the Diocese. Fr. Karulus could have done the same during his tenure as Vicar General and moderator of the curia.
If what transpired between the survivor and Fr. Karulus is in fact a crime, it is recent enough that it may still be subject to prosecution. Anyone with information should immediately contact law enforcement. We also urge the faithful in the Diocese of Buffalo to support complete, unbiased investigations and for investigators to follow the evidence wherever it leads.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)