Greensburg diocesan priest absolved of abuse, takes leave of absence | TribLIVE.com
Westmoreland

Greensburg diocesan priest absolved of abuse, takes leave of absence

1765105_web1_gtr-priestremove-083018
The Rev. Joseph Bonafed

The Catholic Diocese of Greensburg said its investigation into child sex abuse allegations lodged against a priest who served churches in West Newton and Herminie found the claims to be unsubstantiated, but the priest has resigned his pastorates and taken a leave of absence.

Bishop Edward C. Malesic announced Friday that its findings on the Rev. Joseph Bonafed were the result of a six-month investigation. Bonafed was suspended in August 2018 after the diocese received an allegation of child sex abuse dating back to 1990 — two years before he was ordained.

Bonafed had been the priest at Saint Edward’s Parish in Herminie and Holy Family Parish in West Newton.

He did not return a phone call seeking comment.

After Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck did not file charges against Bonafed, the diocese began its investigation. Peck said Friday his office’s investigation was concluded earlier this year.

Peck said his office received calls from Bonafed’s parishioners who were interested in making sure that the investigation was fair.

One of those parishioners, Chris DeCarlo-Parrendo, reacted angrily to the diocese’s investigation and its outcome.

“He put his life into his vocation and is no longer able to serve the Lord the way he was called. I think that’s a crime,” she said.

DeCarlo-Parrendo of Murrysville was a parishioner of Bonafed’s when he was pastor of St. Mary Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Export and St. John Baptist de La Salle Parish in Delmont from 2012 to 2017.

When he was assigned to St. Edward’s and Holy Family in 2017, DeCarlo-Parrendo and other parishioners regularly went to hear him preach there.

She said his departure from the ministry has caused a crisis of faith for her.

“I’m really disillusioned by everything I’ve seen in the last year,” she said. “Everything I grew up with, everything I believed in, everything I was taught from the time I was a toddler has been shattered. This entire process has shattered me emotionally and put my faith to the test.”

DeCarlo-Parrendo said she believes the investigation was overly long and, ultimately, unfair to Bonafed.

“I think we have a whole new variety of victims because we not only have the victims who truly were abused … but now we have a whole new slew of victims in the falsely-accused,” she said. “We’ve got to look at that, too.”

While investigating the child sexual abuse allegations, the diocese said additional claims relating to inappropriate conduct in the workplace were reported and investigated.

A diocesan review board heard details of the canonical investigation regarding child sexual abuse and advised the bishop that the allegations were unsubstantiated, the diocese said. This group of advisers included lay experts and one member of the clergy.

Details of the investigation were presented to two other independent boards. Each unanimously recommended to the bishop that Bonafed not return to his pastorates because of the alleged inappropriate conduct in the workplace.

After discussing the matter with his canonical advocate, Bonafed resigned from his pastorates, the diocese said.

Former parishioner Arlene Bell of Delmont said the diocese is losing a good priest.

“This priest would pack any church that he was ever pastor at — overflowing seats — and no one believed (the original allegation),” Bell said. “If any man deserves to be a priest, it’s Father Joe.”

“This move is not going to put more people in the churches on Saturdays and Sundays,” DeCarlo-Parrendo said. “It’s not just me — there are a lot of us who are heartbroken because Father Joe gave the message that kept us coming back every week.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.