ME--Maine predator priest is defrocked
For immediate release: Friday, Jan. 16
A man too dangerous to be a Catholic priest has been formally expelled by the Vatican. But no one seems to know where he is. Maine’s bishop must do more to protect children from him.
In 1999, Fr. John E. Harris was disciplined for launching a sexually explicit website. In 2003, after an accusation of nude swimming and boating with youths, he was suspended.
Now, finally, Catholic officials in Rome have finally defrocked Fr. Harris from the priesthood. Why has it taken, at best, a dozen years?
Maine’s bishop should now hold a news conference to warn parents, parishioners, police, prosecutors and the public about Harris. The only decent move would be to alert as many people as possible about his crimes.
It’s irresponsible for bishops to recruit, educate, ordain, hire, train, transfer and protect predators like Harris and then – when they’re finally exposed – cut them loose on society with little or no warning.
The Vatican doesn’t defrock priests willy-nilly. It’s a long process. It’s usually not done unless the cleric’s crimes are many or very well-documented. So once Rome has defrocked a priest, it’s very clear he is in fact guilty of molesting children.
We beg Maine Catholic officials to use their vast diocesan resources – parish bulletins, church web sites, and pulpit announcements – to protect kids and warn parents about a potentially dangerous child predator.
And we beg anyone who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes by Harris – or cover ups by his supervisors or his colleagues – to speak up, call police, protect others, expose wrongdoers and start healing.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
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