The Impossible “Suicide” of an Informer Priest. His Sister Makes an Accusation
12 Aprile 2021
Dear readers of Stilum Curiae, as I have promised, Stilum Curiae continues to be concerned with the strange death – passed off as a suicide, but very probably a homicide – of Joseph Moreno, a priest of the Diocese of Buffalo who was found dead a few days before he was going to contact the then-Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, and send him documents which revealed a situation of extreme corruption in his diocese.
We have contacted Sue Moreno (the family has Italian origins in Sicily and Castellammare) in order to have direct information on the fight that she is conducting in order to find out the truth about the death of her twin brother.
First of all, she offered us the possibility of having the documents which form the basis of her initiative: “If at any point you would like me to scan some reports and send them to you via email, I will. Just let me know what you would like to see. I also have photos of the crime scene and photos of the autopsy that are too horrible to see. I am the only member of the family who has seen them.”
As a first question, we asked her why she is so convinced of the impossibility that it was a suicide (which happened, according to the official version, by a shot in the back of the head with the left hand – Moreno was not left-handed).
“There are many answers to this question, but the most important ones are as follows. First of all, Father Joe believed that God is the only one who can take a life. Father Joe was interviewed when he was chaplain of the Buffalo police when a police officer was murdered. The journalist asked Joey if the assassin should receive the death penalty, and this was Father Joe’s answer: only God can take a life.
Secondly, he was not depressed nor did he have suicidal tendencies. A person does not make plans for his future if he is thinking of killing himself. Some examples of this are:
- packing his bags to go to a new assignment
- writing to his bishop the night before asking to remain in the closest rectory for reasons of his father’s fragile health and his other obligations
- making a deposit for the next month’s rent
- changing his address
- telling me that if in four weeks he didn’t get what he was waiting for we would go to speak to the media and blow this thing up (that is, the Diocese!)
- texting his staff about how to make the letter for a sponsor for a Baptism on Sunday, October 14, 2012
- Scheduling a baptism for Sunday, October 14, 2012. He would never have let this family down, especially since the dad was a police officer. He was always present for any member of the police force who needed him.
- Equally important: if he really wanted to kill himself, Father Joe would have written a letter to our father, to his beloved niece Christina, and me. He would also have written explaining why he did it and written his final wishes. He was and will always be the center of our family, and he would never have left us voluntarily.
- The atrocious motive for which the Diocese said that he took his own life was that he was not appointed a Pastor. Father Joe said to me that they were closing his church, which was not a money factory. I wanted to close it with dignity. I was only waiting for the budget to get passed so he could become the full-time chaplain of the Veterans Hospital in Buffalo.
- His own gun was not used; it was taken a couple of weeks before his death.
- Father Joe was right-handed, and the gunshot wound was on his left side. He knew where to shoot to kill and this was not the case.
- That Saturday, he committed himself to celebrating the Masses at Saint Teresa on the upcoming Sundays, October 14, 21, and 28. The notes are in his liturgical calendar that is shown in the photos of the crime scene.”
The second question that we put to Sue Moreno concerned the appraisal that she had a legal expert carry out. She replied as follows:
“The second autopsy report states: ‘Following my examination of the vast material presented by the deceased’s sister, based on the entry of the gunshot wound and its trajectory, it is my opinion, expressed with a reasonable level of medical certainty, that a right-handed individual who is trying to commit suicide is highly unlikely to shoot his left posterior temple area. Further, as the result of a significant documented injury to his left hand which produced a substantial muscular weakness and a diminished mobility in that hand, it would have been extremely awkward for him to have performed this physical act.’
In 2006, Father Joe was stabbed by a burglar in the rectory and underwent surgery and physical therapy after the assault, which left his left hand weakened. Dr. Wecht effectively examined his left hand.”
We then turned to the possible motives for which someone could have wanted the death of Joseph Moreno. Sue replied to us as follows:
“On Thursday, October 11, 2012, we had a long phone conversation about the missing money at Saint Lawrence. He said: “Susie, $500,000 is missing; it’s not accounted for; I don’t know where it has gone, and I don’t trust Deacon Paul.” Father Joe was not only gathering proof of sexual abuse by a priest, but he was about to go deep into investigating his church’s missing money. He was put in charge of the audit, which he had requested and which everyone in the diocese knew about. Father Joe was not the pastor or the administrator, so he should not have been in charge of the audit, unless the pastor or administrator was held responsible for the missing money. Father Joe always believed that he was protected by the Buffalo Police Department and they let him down. He also told me about certain situations of abuse that concerned a former auxiliary bishop, of faculty members of Christ the King Seminary, of a high-level official of the diocese who is very close to the bishop.” He was about to denounce sexual abuse in the Diocese of Buffalo including that of a senior prelate who was caught in a hot tub with a 12-year old boy. Then he wanted to report homosexual activity at the seminary, and he began to write a book about what he had seen. He knew that there were three priests of the diocese who embezzled pension funds.
We asked Susan Moreno if she tried to report all this to any church authority. Here is her reply:
On Thursday, July 31, 2014, my father and I met the former bishops, Richard Malone. He told me that I would should let go of Father Joe’s death spiritually and emotionally. I turned to him and said: “If someone shot your sister in the head, would you let go of it spiritually and emotionally?” Then I proceeded to get up and walk out. He was nervous the whole and kept pulling up his pectoral cross. Before the meeting with Richard Malone, father, Christina and I had met with the former coroner, Dr. Diane Vertes, who completed the initial autopsy on Father Joe on Thursday, June 7, 2013. In this meeting she said that if we could obtain the medical exam on the left hand of Father Joe, it would change the manner of death. She said that she could not keep Father Joe’s file open indefinitely, but she would stick to what the police told her.
Immediately, I contacted the insurance department of the Diocese of Buffalo to obtain the medical records on Father Joe’s left hand. I spoke with Mrs. Pat W. of First Niagara who handles compensation claims for the Diocese of Buffalo, and she told me that the Diocese of Buffalo had collected his file. This phone conversation took place on Thursday, November 26, 2015. After this phone conversation, I spoke with the director of insurance services, Mr. John Scholl, and was told that he was aware that the diocese had the file, and that there would be a meeting the next day to see if they would give me access to Father Joe’s file. Bishop Malone was present at this meeting, as well as the chancellor of the diocese and also the diocesan lawyer Terry Connor. Mr. Scholll said to me that he was aware of the damage to Father Joe’s forefinger, but not to the “trigger finger.” He was very familiar with the stabbing that took place in March 2006, and he said he wanted to help the cause, but he had to wait to see if there was any risk. The Church is always worried about being sued. Don’t hide things and you won’t get sued! I never received a call the next day, and Father Joe’s dossier was never given to me. They lie and protect themselves and their assets and ignore all the crimes they have created.” I made a promise to my Joey the night that he was murdered to obtain justice for him and that’s what I will do until the day I die. No one understands the bond between twins. They took away my other half when they killed Father Joe. His death will not be in vain when all he was trying to do was to expose the evil within our Church.
I am honored that Archbishop Vigano and you are helping us to get justice. Our father is dying and wants justice for his beloved son before he goes to heaven. Let’s hope that you can help us to obtain it. Be well and in good health. I can’t wait to hear from you soon. May God be at your side.
This is the testimony of the sister of a priest who died in incredible circumstances, which cast a terrible shadow over the Church in his diocese. It seems to us that the battle that Church Militant is waging is not only just but a duty. Let’s hope that their efforts and those of Susan Moreno have a positive outcome of justice and transparency.
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