The Diocese of Greensburg announced Saturday that a vicar for four Uniontown area Roman Catholic churches also serving as chaplain at Uniontown Hospital has been removed from those assignments following an allegation received by the diocese Thursday.
In a statement released Saturday evening, the diocese reported that it had received an allegation Thursday regarding Father James W. Clark dating back to events five decades ago, while Clark was a janitor at the former St. James School in Apollo, Pa. before he entered the seminary and was ordained as a priest.
The Diocese of Greensburg did not go into further details about the allegation, which resulted in Clark being removed from his assignment as chaplain of Uniontown Hospital and as parochial vicar of St. Mary (Nativity) in Uniontown, St. John the Evangelist in Uniontown, St. Therese, Little Flower of Jesus in Uniontown, and St. Joseph Parish in South Union Township.
The diocese said that this was the first allegation it has received involving Clark.
“The primary reason for this unilateral announcement among all the parishes in the Diocese of Greensburg is to remind any victim that we stand ready to help them,” the diocese said in its statement.
The Diocese of Greensburg consists of Fayette, Westmoreland, Armstrong and Indiana counties, and priests in those counties were instructed Saturday to announce to every parish at every Mass this past weekend that a priest in active ministry was removed from his assignment Friday, the diocese said.
“Parishioners of the Diocese of Greensburg will be told about the allegation and the removal,” the diocese added. “They will be encouraged to come forward with any information and reminded that the Church will offer counseling to any victim, regardless of where they suffered abuse.“
The diocese stated that the allegation was reported immediately to ChildLine and to the district attorneys of Westmoreland and Armstrong counties.
Clark was appointed parochial vicar to the Uniontown area parishes last month, one of four new parochial vicar appointments throughout the diocese.
Clark’s ouster came a day after state Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced he would take legal action Monday to make a grand jury report on child sexual abuse in Roman Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania known to the public. The state Supreme Court last month held up the release of the report on sexual abuse stemming from an investigation involving six of eight Roman Catholic dioceses throughout Pennsylvania, including the Diocese of Greensburg, according to the Associated Press.
The Diocese of Greensburg said that more than 15,000 clergy, religious, paid staff and volunteers have been cleared by mandated background checks since 2002, adding that all were trained to be aware of the signs of child sexual abuse and how to report it.
In 2002, all diocesan priests were required to comply with Pennsylvania Acts 33 and 34, child abuse and criminal background checks. The diocese established a minor protection policy in 2003 requiring all employees and volunteers to comply with Acts 33 and 34.
The Diocese of Greensburg encouraged those with suspicion about sexual or any other type of abuse of a minor child by anyone to call PA ChildLine immediately at 1-800-932-0313. If the alleged abuser is clergy, religious, paid staff or a volunteer in a parish, school or diocesan position, the diocese requested that the Bishop’s Delegate for Matters of Sexual Misconduct be contacted after calling the ChildLine number. The Bishop’s Delegate may be reached at 724-837-0901, extension 1221.