Matthew H. Clark

The Most Reverend

Matthew Harvey Clark
Bishop Emeritus of Rochester
Province New York
Diocese Rochester
Installed June 26, 1979
Term ended September 21, 2012
Predecessor Joseph Lloyd Hogan
Successor Salvatore Ronald Matano
Ordination December 19, 1962
Consecration May 27, 1979
Personal details
Born (1937-07-15) July 15, 1937
Waterford (town), New York, USA
Nationality  American
Denomination Roman Catholic Church
Occupation Roman Catholic Bishop
Alma mater Holy Cross College, Pontifical Gregorian University
Styles of
Matthew Clark
Reference style The Most Reverend
Spoken style Your Excellency
Religious style Bishop
Posthumous style not applicable

Matthew Harvey Clark (born July 15, 1937) is an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as the Eighth Bishop of Rochester from 1979 until 2012.

Early life and education

Matthew Clark was born in Waterford, New York, to Matthew and Grace (née Bills) Clark.[1] He attended Catholic Central High School in Troy and Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts, before entering Mater Christi Seminary in Albany.[1]

He also attended St. Bernard's Seminary in Rochester, and then furthered his studies in Rome at the Pontifical North American College and the Pontifical Gregorian University.[1]


While in Rome, Clark was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Martin O'Connor on December 19, 1962.[2] He obtained a Licentiate of Sacred Theology from the Gregorian in 1963 and, upon his return to the United States, taught at the Vincentian Institute in Albany while serving at Our Lady of Mercy Parish.[1]

Clark returned to the Gregorian in 1964, earning a Licentiate of Canon Law in 1966.[1] From 1966 to 1967, he was vice-chancellor for the Diocese of Albany. He then served as assistant pastor at St. Ambrose Parish in Latham (1967–1972) and chairman of the Diocesan Priests' Personnel Board (1969–1972).[1] In 1972, Clark returned to Rome again to serve as assistant spiritual director of the North American College. He became its full spiritual director in 1974.[1]

Episcopal career

On April 23, 1979, Clark was appointed the eighth Bishop of Rochester by Pope John Paul II.[2] He received his episcopal consecration on the following May 27 from John Paul II himself, with Archbishop Duraisamy Simon Lourdusamy and Eduardo Martínez Somalo serving as co-consecrators, at St. Peter's Basilica.[2] He selected as his episcopal motto: "God's Love Endures Forever".[1]

Clark succeeded the retiring Joseph Lloyd Hogan, and was formally installed at the Rochester War Memorial on June 26, 1979.[2] His 33-year tenure as Bishop is the second-longest in the Diocese of Rochester's history, following the 40-year-long tenure of its founding bishop, Bernard John McQuaid.

Generally seen as a progressive, Clark has been criticized for being overly tolerant of homosexuality and even challenging the Vatican's position of not allowing homosexual priests.[3][4] In 1986, Clark was forced by the then Cardinal Ratzinger at the Vatican to withdraw his imprimatur, or church approval, from a sex education manual written by a priest in his parish as being "defective" about church teachings.[5] Clark has received some credit for clamping down on abusive priests[6] and in 2004 the diocese was deemed to be in "full compliance" with the US Conference of Catholic Bishops charter for the protection of children and young people.[7] Clark presided over the unpopular closing of many of Rochester's schools and parishes pledging to complete the "re-sizing" of the diocese prior to his retirement in 2012.[8][9] Others associate the sharp decline in church attendance with his tenure.[10] In 2003 Clark was criticized over his $11 million renovation and liturgical re-alignment of Sacred Heart Cathedral.[11]

Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of Bishop Clark from the pastoral governance of the Rochester diocese on September 21, 2012. At the time of Bishop Clark's retirement, no successor was named. Bishop Robert Joseph Cunningham served as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Rochester, in addition to his responsibilities as Bishop of Syracuse, until the installation of Salvatore Matano.


Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Joseph L. Hogan
Bishop of Rochester, New York
1979 – 2012
Succeeded by
Salvatore R. Matano
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