Pittsburgh Priests Listed in Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, Noting Those I Knew

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, The Donald, Pennsylvania grand jury report
The Archbishop of Washington D.C., Cardinal Donald William Wuerl, presides over the the Blue Mass that marks the beginning of National Police Week in the Nation’s Capital in 2015. (Photo by James Tourtellotte – Public Domain)

Pittsburgh, PA-(ENEWSPF)- About that Pennsylvania grand jury report. Here are the names of the priests from the Diocese of Pittsburgh, including those I knew. I was not familiar with these accusations when I knew them — with the exception of one. And I knew that guy in the red zucchetto, pictured above. Very, very disappointed to read about his alleged action and inaction. The report is disturbing on many levels.

The Pennsylvania grand jury report from the Office of the Attorney General is not an easy read. At 1,356 pages, redacted, the content is vivid and grotesque in the behavior it details. Beyond that, it is difficult for this writer, a seminarian with the Diocese of Pittsburgh from 1985-1988. Before that, I was involved with a “pre-seminary” program, where I first met Father Donald Wuerl, now Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, D.C. In high school, I was invited periodically, with my parents, to serve and lector at Sunday mass with Bishop Vince Leonard, a liturgy broadcast on something called radio. After mass, we would join Bishop Leonard for breakfast.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl was Father Wuerl, rector of St. Paul Seminary in Crafton, PA, when I met him. Did not know him well but spoke with him often. Visited the seminary when I was home from breaks in college. Fr. Wuerl would invite me to stay for dinner. “We can always put more water in the soup,” he would say. In his apartment on campus, he had tickets from his service at Vatican Council II when he served as Bishop John Wright’s secretary.

Many priests I knew in Pittsburgh at the time used to refer to him tongue-in-cheek as “The Donald.” This was long before he was named a bishop. Cardinal Wuerl was always a “company man” first, and the rumors circulated for years that he would be a bishop some day. 

As always in the Catholic Church, it was a Tuesday late in 1985 when Father Wuerl got the call from Rome that he would be ordained a bishop. He was living at St. Paul Seminary in Crafton, PA, at the time, as was I.

That Tuesday he presided at mass for us at St. Paul’s. As he was putting on his vestments for the afternoon liturgy that day, Rev. Theodore A. Rutkowski, Rector of St. Paul Seminary from 1985 – 1986, our rector, told him to put on his zucchetto, the “skull cap” bishops wear. “You’re a bishop now,” Fr. Ted told him.

Turns out Fr. Ted Rutkowski was named as a defendant in 2016 in the sex abuse case of Father Anthony J. Cippola, as was the Pittsburgh Diocese, Bishop Wuerl, Fr. Cipolla, two of Wuerl’s predecessors, retired Bishop Leonard, and Bishop Bevilacqua, later Cardinal and Archbishop of Philadelphia; Sister Mary Alice Sobieraj of the McGuire Memorial Home, Msgr. Joseph Findlan, pastor of St. Canice from 1967-1986, and the Rev. Carl William Hausen. – The Sex Abuse Case Against Father Anthony J. Cipolla

Cardinal Wuerl issued a sharply-worded statement regarding the mention of his name in the Pennsylvania grand jury report and own alleged involvement in these cover-ups:

“As I have made clear throughout my more than 30 years as a bishop, the sexual abuse of children by some members of the Catholic Church is a terrible tragedy, and the Church can never express enough our deep sorrow and contrition for the abuse, and for the failure to respond promptly and completely. While I understand this Report may be critical of some of my actions, I believe the Report confirms that I acted with diligence, with concern for the victims and to prevent future acts of abuse. I sincerely hope that a just assessment of my actions, past and present, and my continuing commitment to the protection of children will dispel any notions otherwise made by this report.”

After examining the Pennsylvania grand jury report, readers might conclude that Cardinal Wuerl is being very generous and forgiving to himself regarding his own actions.

I was very involved in our parish liturgy, following my parents’ lead. Because of that, some of the names in this report regarding priests from Pittsburgh are very familiar to me.

We will list all of the names of Pittsburgh priests mentioned in the Pennsylvania grand jury report here.

Warning: the language from this report is not for the young. Please spare our youth the details, but always tell them the truth, and keep them safe.

From the Pennsylvania grand jury report regarding Pittsburgh:

The Grand Jury uncovered evidence of sexual abuse of minors committed by dozens of priests and, in one case, an aspiring priest, in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. This sexual abuse included grooming and fondling of genitals and/or intimate body parts, as well as penetration of the vagina, mouth, or anus. The evidence also showed that Diocesan administrators, including the bishops, had knowledge of this conduct yet regularly placed the priests in ministry after the Diocese was on notice that a complaint of child sexual abuse had been made. This conduct was enabling to the offenders and endangered the welfare of children.

The evidence demonstrated that the Diocese had discussions with lawyers regarding the sexual conduct of priests with children and made settlements with the victims. These settlements contained confidentiality agreements forbidding victims from speaking out about their abuse under threat of some penalty, such as legal action to recover previously paid settlement monies.

Finally, the Grand Jury received evidence that several Diocesan administrators, including the bishops, often dissuaded victims from reporting to police or conducted their own deficient, biased investigation without reporting crimes against children to the proper authorities.

Here are the Pittsburgh priests named in the report. Names with asterisks (*) are priests I knew personally at one time or another either while growing orwhen I was in the seminary. My home parish was St. Albert the Great in Baldwin, PA, now renamed and consolidated.

The Names Listed in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report

1) NAME CURRENTLY REDACTED BY COURT

2) James R. Adams

3) James L. Armstrong

4) John M. Bauer

5) John E. Brueckner

6) Leo Burchianti

7) Robert Castelucci

8) Mauro James Cautela*

Rev. Mauro Catuela (d. 2005), ordained 1974, a parish priest in the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh since 1974, pastor of Holy Redeemer Parish, Elwood City since 1992, and served as dean of all Lawrence County parishes, faced allegations that he had a sexual relationship with a teenage boy, and spent thousands of dollars of church money on gambling and buying pornography. Catuela denied all of the allegations, resigned as pastor 24 August 2005. Cautela collapsed and died December 2005. – EurekaEncyclopedia.com

9) Charles J. Chatt*

(On a personal note, Fr. Charles J. Chatt baptized me at St. Anne’s in Castle Shannon. Later, at St. Albert the Great Grade School, he gave us instruction prior to receiving first communion, and, two years later, the sacrament of reconciliation.)

A 36-year-old man said [Chatt] molested him over six years, beginning in 1982 when the man was an altar boy at Our Lady of Loreto Church in Brookline. – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette April 29, 2004

Rev. Charles J. Chatt, ordained 1964, accused of abuse, he was removed from ministry and placed on leave in July 1992. “He formally withdrew from all priestly service on July 31, 2003.” One, possibly two civil suits filed 2004. Claims included in Diocese’s September 2007 $1.25 million settlement as to 32 plaintiffs alleging abuse by 17 priests. Sued 2004. – EurekaEncyclopedia.com

10) Anthony J. Cipolla

11) John P. Connor

12) John David Crowley

13) Richard Deakin

14) Ferdinand B. Demsher

15) Myles Eric Diskin

16) Richard J. Dorsch

17) David F. Dzermejko

18) NAME CURRENTLY REDACTED BY COURT

19) John P. Fitzgerald

20) Joseph M. Ganter

21) John A. Genizer

22) Charles R. Ginder

23) James G. Graham

24) William Hildebrand

25) John S. Hoehl

26) James Hopkins

27) John J. Huber

28) Edward G. Huff

29) Edward Joyce

30) Marvin Justi

31) Bernard J. Kaczmarczyk

32) Joseph D. Karabin*

According to a 33-year-old man, [Karabin] molested him when he was an 13-year-old altar boy in 1983 and 1984 at St. Albert the Great Church in Baldwin Borough. – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette April 29, 2004

Ralph A. Oliverio, 40, of Duquesne, said in court papers filed yesterday that Karabin fondled him and forced him to engage in oral sex in 1977 at Holy Name Church in Duquesne, when Karabin assisted the regular priest there. A 35-year-old Pittsburgh man, whose name was not listed in yesterday’s lawsuits, also said Karabin fondled him when he was 13 following altar boy training sessions at St. Albert the Great Church.

Oliverio, who could not be reached for comment, reported the abuse to Wuerl in 1992, the lawsuit said. Lengwin said church records show Wuerl never met with Oliverio.

Karabin underwent church counseling from 1978 to 1986 for what Lengwin called “serious questions about his sexual orientation and abuse of alcohol.” He was then named the chaplain at UPMC Braddock hospital until he left in 2002, Lengwin said. – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Sept. 30, 2004

Joseph Karabin died April 15, 2016, at the age of 68.

33) John Keegan

34) NAME CURRENTLY REDACTED BY COURT

35) Henry Krawczyk

36) NAME CURRENTLY REDACTED BY COURT

37) Edward L. Kryston*

Ed Kryston was a priest at St. Albert the Great when I was in grade school.

38) Anuj it Kumar

39) George Kurutz

40) Fidelis Lazar

41) NAME CURRENTLY REDACTED BY COURT

42) Albert Leonard

43) Casimir F. Lewandowski

44) John P. Maloney

45) Julius May

46) Dominic McGee

47) Donald W. Mcllvane

48) Thomas McKenna

49) Albert McMahon

50) John H. McMahon

51) Frank Meder

52) NAME CURRENTLY REDACTED BY COURT

53) Arthur R. Merrell

54) NAME CURRENTLY REDACTED BY COURT

55) Joseph Mueller

56) Lawrence O’Connell

57) Thomas M. O’Donnell

58) William P. O’Malley III

59) Ernest Paone

60) George Parme

61) Paul E. Pindel

62) “Pittsburgh Priest #1”

63) Francis Pucci

64) John W. Rebel

65) Raymond R. Rhoden

66) Carl Roemele

67) Michael C. Romero

68) Oswald E. Romero

69) David Scharf

70) Richard Scherer

71) Raymond T. Schultz

72) Francis Siler

73) Rudolph M. Silvers*

St. Vincent de Paul, 1994, replacement minister. One boy reported that Silvers would rough house with him and other boys and put his hand in their clothing and touch him in other ways inappropriately. The boy reportedly ran away from home several times and entered counseling, the report states. The diocese eventually paid the boy’s family $96,750 for compensation for his counseling. Other allegations also were lodged against Silvers by mothers of teen boys that are detailed in the report. – New Castle News

74) Edward P. Smith

75) James E. Somma

76) Bartley A. Sorensen

77) Robert E. Spangenberg

78) Paul G. Spisak

79) Lawrence F. Stebler

80) Richard Gerard Terdine

81) NAME CURRENTLY REDACTED BY COURT

82) Charles Thomas

83) John William Wellinger

84) Joseph S. Wichmanowski

85) George A. Wilt

86) Robert G. Wolk

87) William B Yockey*

88) Theodore P. Zabowski

89) George Zirwas

90) Richard Zula

91-99) Pittsburgh Priests #2-10

Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report: The Case of Father Ernest Paone

Consider the case of Father Ernest Paone, ordained in 1957 and was assigned to five separate parishes within the first nine years of his ministry, according to the report. Paone served under four bishops of Pittsburgh:

  • John Cardinal Wright (1/23/1959 through 4/28/1969)
  • Bishop Vincent M. Leonard (6/1/1969 through 6/30/1983)
  • Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua (10/10/1983 through 02/10/1988)
  • Donald Cardinal Wuerl (2/12/1988 through 5/15/2006)

Details from the Pennsylvania grand jury report:

On May 1, 1962, Father Edmund Sheedy, the Pastor of St. Monica where Paone was serving as Parochial Vicar, notified Bishop John Wright that he had interceded to prevent Paone from being arrested for “molesting young boys of the parish and the illegal use of guns with even younger parishioners.” Sheedy advised Wright that Paone was involved in “conduct degrading to the priesthood” and “scandalous to the parishioners.” In response, the Diocese reassigned Paone to Madonna of Jerusalem, in Sharpsburg.

On August 4, 1964, Robert Masters, the District Attorney of Beaver County, sent a letter to Bishop Vincent Leonard of the Diocese of Pittsburgh with respect to a sexual abuse investigation of Paone. The District Attorney advised the Diocese that “in order to prevent unfavorable publicity,” he had “halted all investigations into similar incidents involving young boys.” No further action was taken against Paone.

On September 15, 2017, Masters testified before the Grand Jury. Masters was confronted with his letter which the Grand Jury obtained from Diocesan files. When asked by the attorney for the Commonwealth why he would defer to the Bishop on a criminal matter, Master replied, “Probably respect for the Bishop. I really have no proper answer.” Masters also admitted he was desirous of support from the Diocese for his political career.

For approximately one year, Paone was without a clear assignment within the Diocese. On May 20, 1966, Wright granted Paone an indefinite leave of absence “for reasons bound up with your psychological and physical health as well as spiritual well-being.” Following this leave of absence, Paone relocated to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. In 1967, he relocated again to the Diocese of San Diego.

Paone’s home Diocese remained the Diocese of Pittsburgh. The ability to remove Paone from ministry or permit him to continue in ministry resided in the Bishop of Pittsburgh. In the subsequent years, Paone would require continued authorization from the Diocese of Pittsburgh to remain in active ministry among the Catholic faithful and their children. This was demonstrated in documents obtained by the Grand Jury from the secret or confidential archives of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

On August 14, 1968, Paone requested that the Diocese recommend him for faculties within the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Paone indicated that he had spoken with Wright and had obtained his approval. On August 27, 1968, the Diocese complied with this request by letter. Father Anthony Bosco, Chancellor of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, wrote Monsignor Benjamin Hawkes of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and informed him that Paone was living in California with the knowledge and approval of Wright. Bosco stated, “There would, therefore, be no objection to Father being granted the faculties of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.”

Again in 1975, a similar request was made for a letter of good standing. On March 3, 1975, the Diocese complied. Bosco provided a letter “to certify that the Reverend Ernest C. Paone is a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh on leave of absence, but in good standing. He has permission of his Ordinary to offer Mass.”

During the decades between Paone’s departure from Pennsylvania in 1966 and 1991, Paone served as pastor of a parish in Diamond Bar, California. Paone reported to the Diocese that his service included hearing “many confessions in that parish.” Paone also served in two parishes in the Diocese of San Diego. Paone taught in public schools, and attended at least one course at Catholic University in San Diego, while maintaining all priestly faculties through the Diocese of Pittsburgh. There is no indication that the Diocese provided any interested parties information that Paone had sexually abused children or that the Diocese had played a role in preventing his prosecution for that conduct.

As Paone continued in ministry, he did so with approval from the Diocese in spite of the Diocese’s knowledge that Paone was a child molester. The aforementioned period of time encompassed the entire tenure of Bishop Anthony Bevilacqua from October 1983 to February 1988. Diocesan records, obtained by the Grand Jury, show the least amount of internal correspondence regarding Paone during that time. The Grand Jury concluded that Bevilacqua left Paone to his ministries and provided little to no oversight. While the lack of meaningful supervision is consistent with the conduct of other Bishops of Pittsburgh and detailed herein, a relevant observation specific to Bevilacqua himself is the apparent lack of documentation of any of Paone’ s activities in contrast to the internal documentation executed by the other Bishops.

On June 30, 1989, Bishop Donald Wuerl sent a letter to the Vatican with respect to several diocesan priests who had recently been accused of sexually abusing children and whose cases had generated significant publicity. In the letter, Wuerl documented his diocesan policies for sexual abuse and stated his responsibility as Bishop was to determine the course of action in these cases. Wuerl wrote that Catholic parishioners had a right to know whether a priest accused of such crimes had been reassigned to their parish. Further, Wuerl advised that due to the scandal caused by these priests, he initiated a review of any previous cases of diocesan priests who had been accused of “pedophilic activities” with minors.

Wuerl warned the Vatican that Catholic bishops and dioceses could become liable once they are made aware of sexual abuse complaints and that priests who deny the “crime” of pedophilic activity with minors is “common in pedophiles” and that pedophilia is “incurable.” Wuerl noted his exclusive role and stated that the “unassignability” of a priest must rest solely with the bishop due to the potential victims’ parents “who have a moral right to expect chaste conduct from the priest” and the parishioners who “would be gravely unsettled and scandalized in the knowledge that a priest pedophile has been assigned in their midst.”

However, despite Wuerl’s summary of the serious and criminal nature of the problem to the Vatican, Diocesan records revealed that Wuerl granted Paone’ s request to be reassigned again on October 22, 1991. This time, Paone was permitted to transfer to the Diocese of Reno – Las Vegas to serve as the Parochial Vicar at a local parish. Wuerl wrote that he had been updated on Paone’s recent meeting with Father Robert Guay, Secretary for Clergy and Pastoral Life, and Father David Zubik, Director of the Office of Clergy. Wuerl noted that Paone has most recently served on a high school faculty in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Wuerl’ s continued approval permitted Paone to enjoy all the faculties of the Diocese. On November 20, 1991, Zubik wrote to Paone to confirm that Wuerl had approved his new assignment.

Again, with respect to then-Bishop now-Cardinal Wuerl, “However, despite Wuerl’s summary of the serious and criminal nature of the problem to the Vatican, Diocesan records revealed that Wuerl granted Paone’ s request to be reassigned again on October 22, 1991. This time, Paone was permitted to transfer to the Diocese of Reno – Las Vegas to serve as the Parochial Vicar at a local parish. Wuerl wrote that he had been updated on Paone’s recent meeting with Father Robert Guay, Secretary for Clergy and Pastoral Life, and Father David Zubik, Director of the Office of Clergy. Wuerl noted that Paone has most recently served on a high school faculty in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Wuerl’ s continued approval permitted Paone to enjoy all the faculties of the Diocese. On November 20, 1991, Zubik wrote to Paone to confirm that Wuerl had approved his new assignment.” (emphasis added)

And then this from the Pennsylvania grand jury report, emphasis added:

In March, 1992, Paone took a leave of absence from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for “reasons of health.” On July 25, 1994, the Diocese of Pittsburgh received another complaint of child sexual abuse committed by Paone in the 1960’s. The victim’s sister came forward and reported that after becoming aware of the abuse, her father “went to the rectory with a shotgun and told Father Paone that he better leave town.” The Diocese sent him to St. Luke’s Institute for an evaluation.

In a confidential letter sent to St. Luke’s, the Diocese acknowledged that Paone had been teaching seventh and eighth grade students in the Diocese of San Diego for 19 years. Further, in another confidential memorandum sent from Zubik to Wuerl, Paone’ s various assignments and sexual abuse complaints were again listed in detail. The Grand Jury noted that this process showed no concern for public safety or the victims of child sexual abuse. The handling of these matters was commonplace. In spite of the complaint, Paone continued in active ministry following his brief evaluation at a church -based treatment facility.

The Grand Jury discovered that this 1994 complaint resulted in the generation of Diocesan records that noted an even greater extent of knowledge regarding Paone’ s sexual conduct with children. An August 5, 1994 confidential memorandum sent from Zubik to Wuerl advised him of this new complaint against Paone and that due to this complaint, his file was reviewed “with great care.” Among other things, Zubik advised Wuerl that questions about Paone’s emotional and physical health were raised as early as the 1950’s, while he was still in seminary. Zubik further advised of Paone’s various assignments and correspondence over the years, before also describing the multiple records documenting the Diocese’s knowledge of his sexual abuse of children as early as 1962. Zubik then noted that with respect to these latter records, “You should know that these last three pieces of correspondence were placed in the confidential files.”

Wuerl responded by dispatching letters notifying the relevant California and Nevada Dioceses of the 1994 complaint. However, Wuerl did not report the more detailed information contained within Diocesan records. The Diocese did not recall Paone; nor did it suspend his faculties as a priest. To the contrary, Paone continued to have the support of the Diocese. On July 29, 1996, Wuerl was informed by the Chancellor of the Diocese of San Diego that Paone had continued with his ministry, but, “acting on the advice of our insurance carrier,” he was requesting that Wuerl complete the enclosed affidavit, which stated, among other things, that Paone has “not had any problems involving sexual abuse, any history of sexual involvement with minors or others, or any other inappropriate sexual behavior.”

On August 12, 1996, Wuerl directed Father Kozar, Secretary for Clergy and Religious, to respond to the request. Kozar then sent a confidential letter to the Diocese of San Diego and advised, among other things, that:

“Father Paone has not had an assignment in this diocese for over thirty years. Thus, the only appropriate information about him has already been communicated to you in a letter from Father Robert Guay, Secretary for Clergy and Religious, dated January 30, 1996.”

Paone again continued in ministry.

Father Zubik, noted above, is now Bishop David Zubik, current bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

The Pennsylvania grand jury report goes on. Read it all here.

Or, read it all right here: