Fresno Catholic Diocese speaks out on resignation, abuse allegations against former priest

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Diocese of Fresno has remained mostly quiet about the allegations of abuse at parishes in Firebaugh and Bakersfield made against former Monsignor Craig Harrison.

"I've been asked by our bishop to read this letter to you this morning," said a clergy member at St. Francis Church in Bakersfield.

A letter from Bishop Joseph Brennan was read during Sunday mass, directly addressing the accusations first made public against the former monsignor in April of 2019.

"The Diocese of Fresno did receive allegations of misconduct involving seven minors against Craig Harrison," the letter read.

After an internal investigation, the letter explains the Diocesan Review Board looked over each allegation and found them to be credible. Those findings led to a case being opened within the Vatican.

According to Bishop Brennan, a judicial tribunal was scheduled to hear the matter the same week that Harrison submitted his resignation to Pope Francis in February.

His letter went on to say that Harrison can no longer refer to himself as Monsignor or Father and should discourage the faithful to refer to him by that title.

"He is not allowed to give a homily nor is he able to carry out any directive function in the area of pastoral care."

An attorney representing Harrison has repeatedly denied all allegations of abuse. Just last month, Craig Harrison was included on a list released by the Fresno Catholic Diocese.

It named 66 clergy members who the Church says have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors and young people in the Diocese of Fresno.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.