The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo released the following information: Bishop Michael W. Fisher has placed four retired priests on administrative leave after being informed that informational documents have been filed with the federal Bankruptcy Court as part of the Buffalo Catholic Diocese’s Chapter 11 reorganization proceeding. Specifically, bankruptcy claimants have filed confidential documents containing information about their allegations against the priests.
Upon learning of the allegations, the diocese notified the offices of the appropriate district attorneys, and confronted the priests, all of whom denied committing any acts of abuse. The diocese also reported the claims to the independent review board, which will be responsible for appointing independent investigators. The priests accused are the following:
•The Rev. Robert Beiter, 82, who is retired and not currently active in ministry due to declining health, is restricted from carrying out any priestly ministry or from presenting himself publicly as a priest. At the time of his retirement, Beiter’s served as pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Brocton.
•The Rev. Thomas Wopperer, 83, also retired, but who assists at a number of diocesan parishes, is also restricted from performing priestly ministry or presenting himself publicly as a priest. Wopperer served as pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Dunkirk prior to his retirement.
•The Rev. Raymond Donohue, 63, is retired but also occasionally assists in various parishes. He is also restricted from performing priestly ministry or presenting himself publicly as a priest Donohue previously served as pastor of St. Mary Parish in Mayville and St. Isaac Jogues Parish in Sherman.
•The Rev. Monsignor Ronald Sciera, 86, who is retired and currently residing in Florida, has also been placed on administrative leave. Sciera is not currently active in public ministry, however, is similarly restricted from presenting himself as a priest or performing priestly ministry. He previously served as pastor of Precious Blood Parish in Buffalo. Archbishop Thomas Wenski, Archbishop of Miami, has been informed of Sciera’s status.
The decision by Fisher to place these priests on administrative leave is not intended to indicate guilt or a determination about the truth or falsity of the complaints.