The Rev. Edward Sacks of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Bethlehem Township has been removed from ministry while a complaint of sexual abuse against him in investigated.
The Allentown Diocese has removed a monsignor from ministry as authorities investigate a sexual abuse allegation against him, spokesman Matt Kerr said Tuesday.
Monsignor Edward Sacks, pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Bethlehem Township, is the third Allentown Diocese priest removed from ministry since a statewide grand jury report was released Aug. 14. One of the three faces criminal charges, and one was reinstated last week after the accusation against him was found to be false.
In a statement in Our Lady of Perpetual Help’s parish bulletin last weekend, Sacks said his suspension was immediate and based on an allegation by the mother of a student from the former Holy Name High School in Reading. Sacks was vice principal there from 1965-68 and principal from 1974-79.
“I am absolutely convinced I can prove my innocence,” Sacks said in the statement. “It is a case of mistaken identity.”
Under its zero tolerance policy, the diocese removed Sacks from ministry and informed law enforcement of the allegations, Kerr said in a statement.
Sacks, 80, was ordained in 1964 and served mostly in high schools. In addition to Holy Name, he was principal of Marian Catholic High School in Rush Township, Schuylkill County.
He has been pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help since 1988.
“The [zero-tolerance policy] has been put in place as it should be,” Sacks said in the church bulletin.
“Know that you are in my prayers and I ask you to pray for me,” he added.
The allegation was not part of the state grand jury report, which examined six dioceses, including Allentown. It named 301 allegedly abusive priests and conservatively estimated 1,000 victims.
Since the report, the Allentown Diocese has removed from ministry the Rev. Kevin Lonergan, who was charged on Aug. 21 with corruption of minors and indecent assault for allegedly sending nude pictures of himself to a 17-year-old girl and grabbing her buttocks earlier this year.
It suspended the Rev. David Gillis on Aug. 24 when a man claimed in a state hotline call that Gillis had abused his daughter. The suspension was lifted last week when the accusation proved false, and Gillis returned to ministry in Florida.
“The father did not have any basis to name Rev. David C. Gillis, but mentioned him because he was a priest at St. John the Baptist de La Salle School in Shillington, Berks County,” said Berks County District Attorney John T. Adams, who also is investigating Sacks’ case.
Additionally, a Reading man sued the diocese on Aug. 27, charging that the late Rev. Richard J. Ford fondled him in a rectory in 1989.
According to the grand jury report and Allentown Diocese records, more than 50 priests from the diocese, many of them deceased, were named as known or alleged abusers over a period of decades.
A hotline established by state Attorney General Josh Shapiro for clergy sex abuse complaints has received more than 1,000 calls.
Concerns about abuse in the church or elsewhere can be reported to the state ChildLine at 800-932-0313; the attorney general’s hotline at 888-538-8541; or to local law enforcement.