BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Diocese of Buffalo's No. 2 administrator has been suspended for allegations of sexual misconduct.
Fr. Peter Karalus, the vicar general of the diocese, was placed on administrative leave Saturday "following an allegation of sexual misconduct by a person who was a minor in 2011," interim Bishop Edward Scharfenberger said in a news release.
The news release gave no further details about the allegations but said they were referred to the Erie County District Attorney.
The diocese also said it would conduct an internal investigation of its own.
Bishop Richard J. Malone appointed Karalus as vicar general in late 2018, after Fr. Mark Noonan -- Malone's previous No. 2 man -- quit the post to return to parish life.
Karalus did not respond to a message seeking comment, but diocese spokesman Greg Tucker called 7 Eyewitness News to state that Karalus' priestly faculties have not been removed and he has not been found guilty of anything.
Karalus still has the ability to say Mass, Tucker said, even though he is not allowed to function as the diocese's No. 2 administrator now that he is on leave. Karalus also serves as "moderator of the curia," the diocese stated.
Msgr. Salvatore Manganello, pastor of St. Louis Catholic Church, will replace Karalus as vicar general, and Fr. Walt Szczesny, pastor of Our Lady of Peace in Clarence, will serve as moderator of the curia.
Father Karalus released a statement to the media today.
"I emphatically deny and confidently declare as false the allegation that I offered words of inappropriate content to a penitent during the Sacrament of Reconciliation nine years ago.
I do not recall this confession, nor can I reveal the content of any confession due to the sacred integrity of the Sacrament.
I can, however, say that over my many years of ministry, I have learned common responses of advice and guidance to offer penitents. In this case, I am certain that my comments, intended as advice, were misunderstood, misinterpreted,
or not comprehended in the manner they were offered.
I trust and will fully cooperate in the process that will investigate this misplaced allegation.
I am confident I will be fully exonerated."