The Diocese of Erie has announced that Father Charles R. (Chuck) Schmitt, an 86-year-old retired priest, is prohibited from all public ministry, as well as any contact with minors effective immediately.

According to a news release issued by the office of communications, an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor dating back to the 1960s was received through the hotline established by the Diocese of Erie.  The matter has been turned over to the Erie County District Attorney, and Bishop Lawrence Persico has initiated an independent investigation through the K&L Gates law firm.

Bishop Persico called the news disheartening.  "This is a very difficult time for the Catholic Church, but we must face the truth."  Persico added that in collaboration with law enforcement, "victims are finding their voice and helping us to ensure we are living out the principles we proclaim."

Father Schmitt retired as pastor of St. Gabriel Parish in Port Allegany in 2006.  After that he served as temporary administrator in Emporium, Tidioute and Emlenton.

Parishioners in the Port Allegany area were informed of the news at Mass Saturday evening.

The Diocese of Erie encourages anyone affected by or with knowledge of similar improprieties to report the abuse by calling 814-451-1543 or the PA ChildLine at 800-932-3013.