Victim Rights March08

Monsignor Craig Harrison delivers the invocation at the Liberty Bell downtown during a Victims Rights March.

A prayer vigil being held tonight in support of Monsignor Craig Harrison has received some backlash from members of the community, even calling for the cancellation of the event.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, SNAP, penned a letter to Fresno Catholic Bishop Joseph V. Brennan to cancel the vigil because it “will impede a police investigation and deter others who may have seen, suspected or suffered abuse from coming forward.”

"Backers of Msgr. Craig Harrison are no doubt well-intentioned. Still, they’ll do great harm tonight if they proceed," the letter stated. "As their shepherd, you can — and should — guide them. You must tell them their vigil will scare and depress others, including kids who are being molested today by other predators, into staying silent."

Joey Piscitelli, the northern California leader for SNAP, said he's seen vigils such as the one scheduled for 6 p.m. today at St. Francis Church in the past. When a priest has a large following in the community, often their supporters "bash" the alleged victims.

"We understand that a lot of people want to support him, but the problem is that’ll scare alleged victims from coming forward," he said. "They’ll think they’re outnumbered and that they’ll be bashed."

Piscitelli said when he came forward after a priest abused him, supporters of the priest called him a "liar."

"They’re not involved or know what happened," Piscitelli said. "They’re not a party to the act, so how could they call victims liars?"

Piscitelli said he is planning on putting on a vigil for alleged victims the "early part of next week." He and other SNAP members will pass out pamphlets with more information on next steps to take if someone is allegedly abused by a priest. 

News of the vigil sparked more than 70 comments on The Californian's Facebook page.

“Poor taste. Just shameful,” wrote Bran Ram. “Have some humility and accept that you don't know anything. Hope for the best. But sending prayers for a man who might have harmed children? Wow.”

“The same people who say (these are) false allegations are the same who are quick to condemn other criminals they don't know, but because they 'know' the monsignor, he's innocent," wrote Tammy Winn. “A vigil, really?? I encourage anyone who has been sexual(ly) abused to come forward. Please do NOT let these people discourage you.”

Winn wrote she had been molested as a child by someone at her church and it took her more than 10 years to speak about it, so she understands how difficult it is to come forward.

Others continue to support Harrison.

"It's called Faith and I have a lot of faith in this man he is NOT a pedophile," wrote Shari Cantrell-Snow. "Funny those who are negative go straight there. Instead of rallying for people like him who have done so good for others and are simply accused....those negative ones....just start trashing."

David Brust, part of a group of five to 10 concerned citizens who will be attending tonight's event, said the vigil is something that would give the community "ease of mind" and is not intended to intimidate people from coming forward if they have been abused.

"The monsignor been so integrated into our community, and loved by so many people that as a community, many people felt that they needed to do something," he said. "Prayer is something that we can all do regardless of what religion we are."

The vigil comes after three allegations of sex abuse have been brought to light against Harrison in the past week. Harrison is currently on paid administrative leave with the Archdiocese of Fresno.

(28) comments

Comment deleted.
Yellowhammer

You are an idiot troll and should be banned from this site.

Tony Tee

Advocacy groups like SNAP are PAID by the gov’t to be the voice of those they represent.
Dear God, I pray that Your Spirit continue to rule over all things.
It is difficult.

Joey Piscitelli said he is planning on putting on a vigil for ALLEGED victims in the "early part of next week."

In the mean time I should not attend prayer vigils for Monsignor Harrison until he holds his . . . IF he in fact will holds one.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time. And somewhere in the mix i should find forgiveness for this man.
And accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;

Conscience of Bakersfield

How dare SNAP tell people how to pray and who to pray for! This is America and we can pray for who and what we want. I prayed for everyone at the Vigil, because no matter what happens they are all going to be jacked up from a rush to judgment on both sides and a media that's happy to push them there.

Abby

Exactly!

Stan

I've associated with Msgr.Craig and kids for many years.at St Francis Parish School, The Childrens Choir at the church, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Church Fiesta ect. He has also helped my adopted son more than anyone in this world with some serious problems his whole life. He has also been a vocal advocate of anyone experiencing any kind of abuse to come forward. "Come to me, tell your parents, tell someone it will be alright." My family and I will be standing with him all the way because I know what kind of a man he is. For you Catholic haters that have to spew your anti faith bs here I have one thing to say. We the 9000 families of St. Francis Parish will pray wherever and whenever we choose If you get in my face about it we will have a problem. We Love You Msgr Craig Harrison Hang in there The truth will set us all free.

NoCalone

My Mom adored Father Craig. My ex-husband was molested by a well known SF Monsignor. The facts have not been made public and may never be. Please don’t shame the victims or bash the Priest. Sounds like the DA is still gathering evidence at this point. At least we can openly discuss these issues now. For that, I am thankful.

CaliMom26

Fr. Craig has the backing of an entire community, and very wealthy members at that. He is currently holed up at the coast, no doubt at the house of a wealthy parishioner. I’m glad someone (SNAP) is showing support for the victims who have come forward already and those who can hopefully muster the courage to come forward in spite of this very intimidating community in Bakersfield.
Don’t you all want to know the truth? What if you don’t really know Fr. Craig?
Maybe he had been a wonderful priest while at St Francis, but maybe he did some inappropriate things in his early days. I don’t doubt anything anymore and want to see this investigation to conclusion.

Tony Tee

@CaliMom26.
No one has “‘come forward’ in spite of this very intimidating community”.
All the community knows is that 2 persons made accusations that Monsignor Harrison made inappropriate advances, THIRTY YEARS AGO. That’s all WE KNOW. YOU DON’T KNOW Fr. Craig is holed up in the coast in the home of a wealthy parishioner. There are also Catholic rectories in the coast where Catholic priests can stay.

LocalCatholic

Monsignor Craig is a good, holy priest. The prayer vigil tonight was a success, with over one thousand people peacefully praying the rosary for victims and the accused.

JoeyPiscitelli

Jim L--- It's both shocking and sad that you would equate that asking victims who have been molested and raped as kids to come forward - is an invitation to a payday. There is no amount of money that can replace a molested childs innocence, or emotional well being.I have met dozens of victims whose lives were completely destroyed, and altered forever because they were violated as kids .If your kids were raped by a teacher or priest or scout-leader, or anybody - would you condemn them if they asked for help? One of my childhood friends was molested as a kid, and she struggled for years, and then killed herself. Shame on you for being so insensitive, and stating that sex abuse victims are after money. I double down on my advice to anybody who was raped or abused by any priest to come forward and seek help and call the police. You cam contact me as well, and I will do everything in my power to help you if you were assaulted as a child.

Abby

Prayer is a powerful tool for anybody. I don’t know the monsignor personally. I have heard a lot of praise for him. I know firsthand that a person whom everybody loves and respects and trust might have some dark secrets. I’m not giving any opinion on whether or not he is rightfully or wrongfully alleged. But I will say that prayer is a powerful tool regardless of infractions. God loves this man regardless of his wrongdoings. And praying for somebody is in no way disrespecting other groups .

SNAPJudy

Thank you Tammy Winn for sharing a bit of your story. You are to be commended for your courage.
Let's hope that anyone who may have knowledge or may have been harmed by Monsignor Craig Harrison will find the courage to come forward and contact law enforcement no matter how long ago it happened. This is not an easy thing to do, but keep in mind that silence only hurts but by speaking up there is a chance for healing and protecting others today.
Judy Jones, SNAP "Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests" 636-433-2511, SNAPjudy@gmail.com

Comment deleted.
Tired of the BS

Wow.... your a real idiot. Clearly you aren’t involved with a church that is compassionate, giving and sees the good in all.... even those who have been accused of something THEY DIDN’T DO! There is no proof of anything. Someone else’s word...

Tired of the BS

What ever happens to praying to bring people together??? There are vigils for the abused and rightfully so. But we should be praying for the wrongly accused..... Fr Craig has been wronged. Faith is what we have and it’s stronger than ever

Copper

You don’t know that he is wrongly accused for a fact. This is entirely and grostesquely insensitive to victims and others who are staying silent in similar situations. Faith is whom exactly a man named Craig or faith in God ?

lrlopez74

How Catholics in California Think: Well, the dude never molested ME, so therefore he never molested ANYONE.

Churchillis1

I pray to the almighty God for justice in this matter. If the accused is guilty, may justice rain down on him for his crimes in destroying the innocence of youth. If the accuser/s is/are lying, may justice also rain down on them for their crimes in trying to destroy an innocent man.
Any other rush to judgement to exonerate OR convict this man in the court of public opinion, based on the limited information we now have, seems unwise.
May we all come together and pray for justice.

lrlopez74

God gave you a brain, sir. Use it.

Churchillis1

God did give me a brain. And I use it to recognize that our system of "innocent until proving guilty" is probably the pinnacle of achievement in civilization. In the absence of actual evidence, I am satisfied to say that all we can hope and pray for is justice. In the absence of evidence, you have chosen to use your God given brain to come to a conclusion of guilt, apparently. And then you have the endless effrontery to condemn others for jumping to conclusions in a different direction.

Copper

And the same can be said of those jumping to conclusion of innocence. It is best to stay neutral and not jump to any conclusions

Copper

Well said.

Jim L

I don't personally know Father Craig but I certainly know of him, his contributions to the community and specially with foster children. It is disappointing that Joey Piscitelli would call for such action. I bet he's never met Father Craig or even visited our city. So, my suggestion is, go mind your own business Joey Piscitelli up in Northern California. These claims equate to nothing more than getting in line for another Catholic Payday. To invite "others to come forward" is the same as saying, "Who else wants money? If you have a story (made up or not), we will pay you to go away." This is a total travesty.

Copper

Jim L your ignorance is obvious. You are participating in victim shaming by saying well they must want a payday. Shame on you Jim L I pray that no one on your family is ever a victim of sexual abuse and has to hear your mouth. Statistically speaking someone already is. I wonder how they would feel coming out to you after hearing how you’ve talked about others in similar circumstances.

REMUDA

SNAP . . . butt out . . . !

clu60

How dare you tell people that have been molested by a priest to butt out of supporting and protecting possible victims? Shame on you?

Copper

Not shame on you? Question mark. But SHAME on every single person that goes to that vigil and those accusing victims of looking for a payday and publicly supporting an alleged perp at sexual abuse survivors expense.

Copper

Yeah that makes sense a support group for victims of sexual abuse shouldn’t support those bein sexually abused. You ..... butt.... out.... Remuda..... and your stupid and annoying overuse of periods and exclamation points!!!!!!!!...........!!!!!!!!!!!!!!...........

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