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Uniontown-area priest already removed from duties now permanently banned

Emily Balser
| Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018, 6:27 p.m.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Greensburg's Blessed Sacrament Cathedral on Tuesday, May 22, 2018.
Jason Cato
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Greensburg's Blessed Sacrament Cathedral on Tuesday, May 22, 2018.

A Uniontown-area priest has been permanently removed from his duties by the Diocese of Greensburg and will not be permitted to return as a priest after, the diocese says, a 50-year-old allegation of abuse was found to be credible and substantiated.

The Rev. James W. Clark had been removed from his positions as parochial vicar for five Uniontown-based parishes since June 29 after allegations of abuse while working as a janitor at the former St. James School in Apollo about 50 years ago before he became a priest.

The exact nature of the allegations has not been made clear.

“Because this allegation has been substantiated, Father Clark will not be permitted to return to ministry in the Diocese of Greensburg or in any other diocese,” the diocesan press release said. “That means he will not be allowed to present himself as a priest, nor function publicly in ministry.”

Clark served at St. Mary (Nativity), St. John the Evangelist, St. Therese, Little Flower of Jesus and St. Joseph. He also was removed as chaplain of Uniontown Hospital.

The St. James School closed in 1998, according to information provided by the Apollo Historical Society.

The release said the allegation, once reported, was conveyed immediately to the state ChildLine hot line and to the district attorneys of Westmoreland and Armstrong counties. Clark was removed less than 24 hours after the allegation was made.

A message left for Jerry Zufelt, diocesan spokesman, was not immediately returned Saturday evening.

A grand jury investigation recently examined decades of sexual abuse reports in the six Pennsylvania dioceses ­— including Greensburg and Pittsburgh.

Officials in the Catholic dioceses of Greensburg, Pittsburgh and Allentown on Thursday said they are cooperating with federal investigators looking into allegations of child sexual abuse and cover-ups in the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania.

Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Emily at 724-226-4680, emilybalser@tribweb.com or via Twitter @emilybalser.

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