Priest in Web Scandal Sent out of State

Associated Press, carried in Portland Press Herald (Maine)
March 17, 2000

A Roman Catholic priest accused of launching a sexually explicit Web site for gay priests has been sent to an out-of-state program to decide if he wants to remain in the priesthood, officials said Thursday.

The Rev. John Harris of Our Lady of the Rosary in Sabattus is accused of masterminding a Web site shut down two months ago by order of Bishop Joseph Gerry of the Portland diocese, diocese spokesman Marc Mutty said. Harris started the Web site, "St. Sebastian's Angels," last summer.

Harris, 45, and two other Maine priests also participated in an e-mail discussion group that included sexually explicit language.

One of the priests, the retired Rev. Antonin Caron of Lewiston, has been barred from conducting church functions in public as a result, Mutty said. He said the third priest did not participate often in the discussion group, and was uncertain about any penalty he might face. Mutty would not name the priest.

"The bishop is shocked and obviously very upset about this," Mutty told reporters Thursday. The diocese has not yet decided what will happen to Harris when he returns to Maine, Mutty said.

Although the site was shut down, part of its contents posted on the Web site of a Catholic watchdog group showed, among other things, naked men and a close-up of a man's genitals.


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