Altoona Priest Placed on Leave
July 6, 2017
A priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown was placed on leave pending the diocese’s investigation of an allegation of misconduct involving a minor in the 1980s.
A Wednesday statement by the diocese did not specify nature of the alleged misconduct.
It’s the latest development for a diocese that last year was the subject of a state grand jury report describing extensive past sexual abuse by priests and alleging coverup by its past bishops.
The Rev. Anthony J. Petracca, who was ordained in 1985, has served at various parishes and most recently was named administrator at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Altoona and chaplain at UPMC Altoona. The hospital said that although Father Petracca had been appointed in June, he had not started serving.
Bishop Mark Bartchak reported the allegation to law-enforcement authorities, the diocese said. It said that while Father Petracca is on leave, he will not be permitted to function as a priest and will not reside in a place where he will have contact with children.
“I want to once again stress my commitment to the safety and protection of all children in our diocese,” Bishop Bartchak said. “Please know that I am taking all necessary steps to ensure the well-being of our youth, and I ask the faithful to join me in praying for all those affected by this case."
A 2016 state grand jury report on the diocese alleged more than 50 priests and others associated with the church had sexually molested hundreds of minors, mainly between the 1940s and 1980s. No one was charged, and most of the alleged perpetrators are deceased, but some were removed from ministry recently over allegations of past abuse.