Monsignor Wallace Harris was removed as pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Church.

Aug 4, 2008 Full story: WABC 344

For nearly two decades, Monsignor Wallace Harris has faithfully served as pastor of the St.

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Janice Moore Smith

Bronx, NY

#1 Aug 4, 2008
It is with the greatest faith that I state that I do not believe the allegations that have been made against Monsignor Harris. You would have to know him to know that he is a man of integrity, compassion, sound judgement and superior intelligence. Those parishoner with whom I spoke are devastated but we are unified in our committment to prayer and believe Monsignor Harris will be vindicated and hopefully returned to us who sincerely appreciate and love him dearly.
Been There SAW it

Jamaica, NY

#2 Aug 4, 2008
I was a child at St. Joseph of the Holy Family where Monsignor Harris came soon after leaving seminary and I can tell you that while I did not witness any sexual abuse, I did see this man physically and psychologically abuse ALL the boys in my class.

It may have been considered discipline back in 1974 - 1979 but in hindsight it is pure, unadulterated abuse.
pwatch

Yorktown, VA

#3 Aug 5, 2008
Innuendo and "I-can-believe-it" comments condemn the accused before he has been found guilty. This is simply the reverse side of not wanting to believe something without full knowledge of the charges against the accused.

God deliver us from such. Better we be silent.
i stand by my pastor

New York, NY

#4 Aug 5, 2008
I know Monsignor Harris personaily and he has been nothing but kind to me and my family. I know for a fact that he would never touch any child in such a way. Why would a man who strives for such high respect and a reputation risk it all even that long ago. Dispite what any court says I refuse to believe this story until he comes and says that he himself did it... I've worked with him for years and I know that this is pure lies and that he doesn't deserve any of this.
Reality Check

South Africa

#5 Aug 5, 2008
What is sad, irrespective of my own personal religious beliefs, is that it has taken horror stories of child abuse, rape, sexual molestation by members of the catholic church to be brought to light before the church has been willing to do anything.
Many of these cases happened up to twenty or thirty years ago so what about the incidents that are happening now?
When will the damage done to THIS generation of children be revealed?
God forbid it has happened/is happening to any of your children.
Defend the individual if you arre sure. Okay. But please, please, please, rise up and condemn the church that you support and its leaders for keeping this under wraps for so long.
Many of you are mothers, for the gods sake.
These could be your children.
Pedophilia is an horrendous crime. If you stand on the side lines and do nothing you are as guilty as the perpetrators
wait 4 full investigation

Brooklyn, NY

#6 Aug 5, 2008
I think that people should withhold judgment until all the facts are known. His record as a Pastor at Saint Charles has been exemplary. That is enough for me to give him the benefit of the doubt until the matter has been fully investigated.
Reality Check

South Africa

#7 Aug 5, 2008
wait 4 full investigation wrote:
I think that people should withhold judgment until all the facts are known. His record as a Pastor at Saint Charles has been exemplary. That is enough for me to give him the benefit of the doubt until the matter has been fully investigated.
No complaints about that. But are you going to stand up and say anything about the Church?
Or rather DO something?
I take it your are a catholic?'scuse my presumption.
And if you have kids, are you not just a little nervous?
C Fitzgerald

Brooklyn, NY

#8 Aug 6, 2008
I have known Msgr. Harris for twenty years. During
that time he has offered support and guidance to
countless adults and children. I am proud to
call him my pastor. Without his example, I believe
that I would have left the Catholic Church a
long time ago. With our prayers he will be found
innocent of these vile charges.
Jacqui

Brooklyn, NY

#9 Aug 6, 2008
I do believe the accusations made against Monsignor Harris are false and I'm deeply hurt that anyone would tarnish his reputation like this. Even after proven innocent he will wear that hat for the rest of his life. My prayers are with my pastor through these trying times. It is my hope that the Catholic Church changes their beliefs and allow these Priest and Religious Sisters to get married. This would prevent future suspicions and allegations.
class 08 does not believe

West Babylon, NY

#10 Aug 6, 2008
my daughter as attended st charles for 9 years. she is angry that( in her words) someone would make up this story. she believes that someone is out to get him for some reason. i would agree with that. anytime a black man is in the spotlight prople want to come up with something to knock them down. they had so many other chances to come out with this info. when the crack down first came out would have been a good time. or does it helpto do this now because he is friends with the gov? MMMM lets not rush to believe everything we hear.
" people seldom do things without a motive
nataliarodrigo

Bayonne, NJ

#11 Aug 6, 2008
At that time every priest and num was physically abusive, it was the way of discipline back then. That is a far cry from being sexualy assaulted. He is totally innocent!
Been There SAW it wrote:
I was a child at St. Joseph of the Holy Family where Monsignor Harris came soon after leaving seminary and I can tell you that while I did not witness any sexual abuse, I did see this man physically and psychologically abuse ALL the boys in my class.
It may have been considered discipline back in 1974 - 1979 but in hindsight it is pure, unadulterated abuse.
2 decades Later

Alpharetta, GA

#12 Aug 7, 2008
Believe the accused...
i was a student at Cathedral Prep
and embarrasment and shame has haunted me for years...i too, was a victim of his. My direction toward priesthood and in life was definetly changed. because of Harris and what he did to me... it is not money we seek... simply warning others to watch their children... My anger has now resurfaced and i feel i am reliving it ...again. Kudos to the brave ones who spoke up! I know of others that will be speaking up about Harris,,, For those of you who support him I wish you could be in my shoes and those others that were ABUSED by him. My innocence was stripped away... forever
a ny catholic

Hollis, NY

#13 Aug 7, 2008
Reality Check wrote:
<quoted text>
No complaints about that. But are you going to stand up and say anything about the Church?
Or rather DO something?
I take it your are a catholic?'scuse my presumption.
And if you have kids, are you not just a little nervous?
I'm a Catholic and I know Msgr Harris - I have a son who has grown up in this parish and here's what he said (he's 14 now) "how do we stop this bullshit about our priest?" He's been in this church for almost 10 years: Sunday school, basketball games, activities - are we concerned - NO! Because we know this man.
Have abuses been committed by clergy? Certainly they have? But in NYC now a priest is removed from a parish when allegations are made - not when the investigation is completed but when the allegation is made! That's progress? Seems to me it spurs a witch hunt. There's no hiding this - the assumption that this was hidden is a wrong one. Within a very short time after the allegation was made the Archidiocese moved. In some views too fast.
Let's not paint with a broad brush - should abusers be punished and removed yes! What do you do about innocent people - that's what they are - until some proof has been offerred.
In America we are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. A person can't be guilty because they are a member of a group where wrongs have been committed before. Is every South African a racist? No Certainly not. Is every priest a peodphile - certainly not.
a ny catholic

Hollis, NY

#14 Aug 7, 2008
Been There SAW it wrote:
I was a child at St. Joseph of the Holy Family where Monsignor Harris came soon after leaving seminary and I can tell you that while I did not witness any sexual abuse, I did see this man physically and psychologically abuse ALL the boys in my class.
It may have been considered discipline back in 1974 - 1979 but in hindsight it is pure, unadulterated abuse.
"in your view - this is not about discipline anymore than it's about your view?! It's about specific allegations -
Must Tell the Truth

Raleigh, NC

#15 Aug 7, 2008
2 decades later: I believe you. I KNOW it's true. I pray for healing for you and the other victims and I pray for the truth to come out. I hate to see a pedophile being supported. What do people expect a pedophile to look like?? Pedophiles look like great people....that's why kids are entrusted to them.

P.S. I WAS a personal friend of Msgr Harris for probably longer than any of you who claim to know him. I also personally know some of his victims. That's how I KNOW IT'S TRUE.
StudentOfHarris

Staten Island, NY

#16 Aug 7, 2008
I am a graduate of Cathedral Prep (Class of '83). During my first three years of study, I resided at the Bishop Ford Residence nearby.
The prep was a small tight-knit community comprised of 116 students (in total) and a faculty / administration of approximately 20+ professionals. Previous allegations regarding the actions of another priest from that timeframe didn't surprise me all that much. But I simply cannot believe the allegations made against Fr. Harris.
Fr. Harris had a multifaceted personality. He was intelligent, witty, spritual, authoritative, truthful (to a fault sometimes) and downright funny. Some considered his humor to be cruel, usually because they were the butt of one of his jokes. I wonder if these allegations against him are a longstanding grudge of this nature from way back when?
For four years my classmates and I interacted with Fr. Harris on a daily basis. Never during that time did i witness any behavior that would be considered physical or inappropriate.
I hope he is given a fair chance in this situation. What's to prevent a frenzy of disgruntled former students taking revenge on the innocent by making accusations of abuse decades after the fact? Furthermore, how does one prove their innocence after being accused?
I understand that the church needs to come off as more sympathetic to the alleged victims of abuse; especially after the negative publicity flurry these past few years. But I am afraid of overcompensation in which wrongfully accused priests are removed from service and for all intense purposes "fired" from their life's vocation of service.
2 decades later

Atlanta, GA

#17 Aug 7, 2008
"a frenzy of disgruntled former students taking revenge on the innocent" ?????
I wish you were in my shoes or in the shoes of the others who share my feelings and had to live with this. bottom line: He has to answer to God if to no one else. I loved the Prep and will always cherish many memories and friends that I made. I was simply naive and too trusting as were others. you were lucky
Don CP Class of 83

AOL

#18 Aug 7, 2008
I too was a student at Cathedral and had Fr. Harris as a priest and teacher. This whole story has my head spinning. Please email me at TrooprThrn@aol.com . I'd like to hear more about your side of the story. What years were you there?
2 decades Later wrote:
Believe the accused...
i was a student at Cathedral Prep
and embarrasment and shame has haunted me for years...i too, was a victim of his. My direction toward priesthood and in life was definetly changed. because of Harris and what he did to me... it is not money we seek... simply warning others to watch their children... My anger has now resurfaced and i feel i am reliving it ...again. Kudos to the brave ones who spoke up! I know of others that will be speaking up about Harris,,, For those of you who support him I wish you could be in my shoes and those others that were ABUSED by him. My innocence was stripped away... forever
StudentOfHarris

Staten Island, NY

#19 Aug 7, 2008
Don't take my words out of context. The sentence states, "What's to PREVENT a frenzy of disgruntled former students taking revenge on the innocent by making accusations decades after the fact?"
There has to be some standard of proof... especially considering the time that has lapsed.
My fear is that the church is so rattled by abuse allegations and the resulting negative publicity that they are now overcompensating when they remove a priest from service so quickly prior to an investigation. Perhaps they should temporarily transfer the priest to duties where there is no interaction with children? I'm not sure I have the answer.
Have you stepped up and offered your story to authorities? If you haven't, you should. Not saying it would be easy, but if what you say is true (I don't know who you are) then this is the time come forward.
When you say the "shoes of others who share my feelings," do you mean you know of "Others" who were abused or are you making a broad assumption?
If there were so many others why haven't we heard anything until now? Perhaps you should contact these "others" and report your story as a group. It might be more effective in the investigation. If you are making assumptions, please stop. A man's reputation is on the line.
2 decades later

Atlanta, GA

#20 Aug 7, 2008
others have started to step up... as I will.

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