Former Military Chaplain Resigns from Priestly Ministry

By Mary Pickels
January 7, 2005

More than two years ago the Diocese of Greensburg announced it had removed from the priesthood for life a priest then on leave because of allegations of sexual abuse of boys.

At that time, citing diocesan policy, the Rev. Roger Statnick, vicar general of the diocese, refused to identify the priest. He did say, however, the priest most recently had served as a chaplain.

The Rev. Maj. Roger A. Sinclair, 57, originally of the Pittsburgh area, was in April 2002 on a leave of absence for personal reasons. Associate pastor at four parishes between 1974 and 1983, Sinclair had for years served as an Air Force chaplain and later served in Veterans Administration hospitals.

Along with two other priests, Sinclair began his leave as the diocese announced it would take action against a priest accused of decades-old sexual abuse.

On Thursday, The Catholic Accent, the diocesan newspaper, announced Sinclair's retirement.

Angela Burrows, executive director of infomedia services, said it is common policy that any time there is a change in status regarding a priest it is published as an official announcement.

An announcement in yesterday's edition reads: "Effective Saturday, Jan. 1, 2005, the Rev. Roger A. Sinclair has resigned from priestly ministry in the Diocese of Greensburg."

"He had not served (in the diocese) for years," Burrows said yesterday.

During his 10 years with the diocese, she said, he served at Immaculate Conception in Connellsville, Holy Family Church in Latrobe, St. Therese in Uniontown and St. Mary in Kittanning, Armstrong County.

Burrows said Sinclair's education began at Sacred Heart Elementary School in Pittsburgh, and that he graduated from Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh. He attended college and seminary at St. Pius X Seminary in Erlanger, Ky.

Burrows said she did not know Sinclair's whereabouts. She did say that he was living outside the diocese.

Priests who retire from the diocese must plan for their own futures, Burrows said.

"Once a priest resigns from the ministry we don't offer any long-term financial support," she said.

At the time of the priests' leaves, Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck began his own review of allegations involving several priests. Those allegations, he confirmed yesterday, were brought to him by the diocese.

Peck said the diocese has over the last few years forwarded to him any potential criminal complaints regarding priests. These complaints did not name individuals, Peck said.

"Every complaint they have forwarded to me has been beyond the statute of limitations," Peck said yesterday.

In 2002, the statute of limitations was five years past an alleged victim's 18th birthday.

The Legislature later approved an increase to 12 years, but the later date was not retroactive to existing cases.

Regardless, Peck said, "Some of the (incidents) were in excess of 20 years old."


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