Traditionalist Priest Vancouver, WA Wrongly Accused, Removed, Altar Rails removed/Vat 2 Altar reinstalled

From: Support Fr. Harris []
Sent: Friday, November 06, 2020 11:07 AM
To: Support Fr. Harris
Subject: Update

November 6, 2020

Dear Fellow Parishioners,

As you know, the Archdiocese of Seattle Abuse Helpline received an allegation during the week of October 19th of sexual abuse involving Father Harris which was reported to have occurred over 20 years ago. The Archbishop stated that the person making the allegation will remain unnamed since this person wishes to be anonymous. Father Harris continues to vehemently deny this unsubstantiated allegation.

During the same week of October19th , the Archdiocese, following its protocols, placed Father Harris on an administrative leave of absence, asked him to step aside from ministry, and move out of the rectory while the Archdiocese conducts its investigation.

Father Harris is a reverent and holy priest. As one can only imagine, stepping aside from ministry and being separated from the Proto-Cathedral community during this time has been difficult for Father. As previously mentioned, Father Harris denies the allegation.

There are two areas of law that pertain to this issue, one being canon and the other being civil. Law enforcement uses civil law whereas the Archdiocese uses canon law.

Law enforcement reviewed this case during the same week of October 19th when the allegation was first made, and they decided in that same week not to pursue this case due to the statute of limitations. Even if the statute of limitations did not apply, it appears doubtful civil action would have been taken due to the lack of credible evidence. The only investigation currently being conducted is by the Archdiocese using canon law.

In civil law, the presumption of innocence is practiced which is the principle that one is innocent until proven guilty. In canon law, the Archdiocese has stated that such allegations do not prove guilt or innocence. However, many parishioners have observed that Father Harris’s treatment under the Archdiocese protocols has the appearance of treating Father as if he were guilty. We understand that the Archdiocese is only following its protocols, however, it is also important to note that Father Harris denied the allegation at the time he was informed of it and he continues to vehemently deny the allegation today. Given the allegation is unsubstantiated by a person whose identity is to remain unnamed, such quick action on the part of the Archdiocese appears to be premature and unjust.

Father Harris continues to employ his own legal representation as he contests this allegation. It is unknown as to how long the Archdiocese investigation will take but it appears that this process can take months. Father’s legal counsel has submitted its first comprehensive argument against the allegation to the Archdiocese Advisory Board. We hope and pray that the Advisory Board is fair and objective to all parties, specifically to Father Harris.

Father Harris is a traditionalist priest. Father celebrates Mass at the Proto-Cathedral ad orientem with a communion rail to receive our Lord kneeling. Since placing Father on administrative leave, the Archdiocese has directed the Proto-Cathedral to put back the standing altar and insists that Mass cannot be celebrated ad orientem. We hope that Father Harris is treated fairly by the Archdiocese during its investigation even though it strongly appears the Archdiocese differs with Father’s traditional celebration of Mass. The liturgy at the Proto-Cathedral as was celebrated by Father is a primary reason why parishioners go to the Proto-Cathedral for Mass and love Father Harris for his reverence.

Since becoming the Pastor of the Proto-Cathedral, Father Harris has brought life into the parish by initiating several projects and activities. For instance, Father started the Pier Giorgio Agape Ministry to serve the homeless and those in most need in our community. He led efforts to build our beautiful adoration chapel, restore the historic pipe organ, install impressive external lighting of the church, remodel of our 1951 parish hall kitchen and numerous other projects to preserve and maintain our historic church. Under Father’s leadership, we had beautiful and reverent Corpus Christi processions, religious Trunk or Treat events, All Saints Day celebrations, Parish Fiesta’s to celebrate our Patron Saint St. James the Greater, and many beautiful liturgies to celebrate feast days. We must never forget how Father Harris brought this parish back to life!

As previously mentioned, if you would like to send Father Harris a message, words of encouragement, or gifts, you can do so by sending it to the Proto-Cathedral of St. James the Greater located at 218 West 12th Street, Vancouver WA, 98660. It is important that your mail be addressed directly to Father Harris and any gifts be written directly to him. Given Father does not reside at the Proto-Cathedral at this time, all mail will be hand delivered to him.

Please continue to keep Father in your prayers. Please also pray for a thorough and quick resolution to this investigation and restoration of Father’s good name and reputation as a good and holy priest!

Yours in Christ,

Friends of Father Harris

Friends of Father Harris do not represent the Archdiocese of Seattle or the Proto-Cathedral of St. James the Greater, but rather we are a group of individuals who support Fr. Harris and passionately believe in his innocence.
Cris Zadrozny
Very well said. This morning at mass everyone was talking about how much they believe in Father Harris' innocence, and how they can't wait for him to come back. I too so appreciate everything he has done for this parish. He is a very genuine man and a very reverant priest, a true man of God.