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The learning curve, continued

By Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. (articles ) | Sep 03, 2003

A priest of the Diocese of Portland, Maine, has been removed from his parish for cavorting with nude minors at a camp in the 1980s. Father John Harris was serving at Our Lady of the Lakes Parish in Oquossoc at the time of this removal.

Father Harris may be familiar to readers of Catholic World Report because in 2000 he was featured prominently in our article on the St. Sebastian's Angels web site for gay priests.

Father John Harris, the pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Sabattus, Maine, had been an early participant on the site, and maintained his own Internet operation which furnished nude photos for the Angels site. The content of the Angels site was so offensive to Bishop Joseph Gerry of Portland, Maine, that he ousted Harris from his role as pastor. "The bishop is shocked and obviously very upset about this," Marc Mutty, a spokesman for the diocese, told a reporter from the local newspaper, the Sun Journal. "Portions of Harris' web site and another related site visited by the priests were 'highly offensive and in some cases obscene,'" Mutty said.

A statement released by the Portland diocese went further:

The Church cannot condone or excuse membership in a group where sexually provocative communications are exchanged, even when it is claimed that these communications were meant to be therapeutic and intended to remain private.
The Sun Journal reported that Father Harris "was ordered to shut down the site." He was sent to an undisclosed retreat facility, to discern whether he wanted to remain active in the priesthood.
Evidently the web site wasn't so offensive and obscene that the bishop thought Harris shouldn't be reinstated in a parish. And the bishop didn't think it was so serious that he thought that considering the past 20 months of the Scandal that it might be prudent to remove Harris from parish ministry. I'm sure that Harris's time at the treatment facility provided him with much "integration" and "maturation of his spirituality."

Oh, and by the way, there is no connection between homosexuality and sexual abuse of children.

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