Illinois priest removed for homosexual porn, misappropriating $29,000 [Updated]

Rev. Barry J. Harmon, 55, who has been removed from ministry and will apply for laicization, had been accused of using a male prostitute in the 1990s.

Fr. Barry J. Harmon, who had served at Mother of Dolors Catholic Church in Vandalia and St. Joseph Catholic Church in Ramsey, Ill., has been removed from ministry by Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois.

Editor’s note: This report was updated on September 11th to reflect information conveyed on the same day through a statement released by the Diocese of Springfield.

An Illinois priest accused of patronizing a male prostitute in the 1990s and misappropriating $40,000 from a parish in 2005 has now been removed from ministry for “immoral activity” involving homosexual pornography and allegedly misspending up to $29,000 at two parishes he oversaw in the Diocese of Springfield.

The Rev. Barry J. Harmon, 55, was removed from ministry and will apply for laicization, Springfield Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki wrote in a Sept. 5 email to diocesan priests. Harmon has agreed to make restitution for the misappropriated funds, Paprocki said. Harmon was initially placed on medical leave Oct. 30, 2017 from his role as pastor of Mother of Dolors Catholic Church in Vandalia and St. Joseph Catholic Church in Ramsey, Ill.

During the medical leave, the diocese discovered financial irregularities at the parishes, and “immoral activity inconsistent with the life of a priest,” Paprocki wrote. He did not offer details. “We have found nothing to indicate that there was inappropriate activity with minors,” Paprocki wrote. Diocesan spokeswoman Marlene Mulford would not elaborate on the “immoral activity,” but she said the diocese “is sure this does not involve minors.”

Fayette County State’s Attorney Joshua Morrison on Sept. 8 said he understood the police investigation involved “potential child pornography and the priest.” The Diocese of Springfield released a statement on Sept. 11 indicating that Vandalia police have examined items seized by investigators and did not find child pornography. Morrison said he was unaware of a financial aspect to the case. He asked those with knowledge of the funds misappropriation to contact his office for investigation.

An informant who contacted the activist group Roman Catholic Faithful Inc. said the situation involves much more than appears on the surface. A search conducted by the diocese at the rectory in Vandalia uncovered “at least one trunk of homosexual pornography” as well as drug paraphernalia, the informant said. A compact disc of homosexual pornography was found hidden in Harmon’s desk, the source said. Father Harmon has been in a decade-long homosexual relationship with an ex-convict, the informant alleged. A video being sought by diocesan investigators is believed to show a party at which “several” priests were dressed in drag, the informant said. The party was allegedly attended by Harmon and at least five other priests.

Bishop Paprocki met with parishioners in Vandalia and Ramsey in early February 2018, but no public announcement was made of Harmon’s alleged misdeeds or of police involvement in the case. A statement was to be read at all Masses Sept. 8 and 9 at the two parishes to announce that police have been called, and Harmon will undergo laicization, or removal from the clerical state, Mulford said. Attempts to reach Harmon for comment were unsuccessful.

“We recently discovered that Father Barry was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) on July 31, 2018,” Paprocki wrote. “In light of all this, it is clear that Father Barry is not suited for ministry of any kind in the priesthood and he said that he would voluntarily apply for laicization.”

One longtime critic of sexual corruption in the diocese said the case is evidence not much has changed since the 1990s.

“If this case involves child pornography, this destroys the credibility of the last two bishops in Springfield,” said RCF President Stephen G. Brady, whose group has conducted investigations in the diocese since 1996. “It was known about Father Barry Harmon years ago when RCF first reported it and no credible action was taken. This proves the fact that nothing is being done and everything is being covered up.” Brady announced Sept. 7 that he is bringing RCF out of retirement to conduct new investigations around the country. The group previously operated from 1996 to 2009.

Harmon has had a troubled past since being ordained in May 1990.

In 1999, a male prostitute named Frank R. Bergen — who claimed he was frequently hired for sex by then-Bishop Daniel L. Ryan — told RCF investigators that Harmon paid him for sex on one occasion in the early 1990s. “I also dated Fr. Barry Harmon one time at his residence while he was a parish priest at St. Aloysius Church,” Bergen wrote in a May 1999 statement. Bergen made the same claim in a January 1998 interview with the local paper, The State Journal-Register. Bergen said he told Bishop Ryan that he had “dated” Father Harmon, and told Harmon that he was sexually involved with the bishop.

According to a transcript of the unpublished State Journal-Register interview, Father Harmon denied having sex with Bergen. He said Bergen made repeated demands for money and threatened to go public with a story about prostitution only after Harmon cut off the cash handouts he had given Bergen to help with his homelessness. Harmon was parochial vicar at St. Aloysius Catholic Church from 1991-94, according to the diocesan directory.

Bergen, then a cocaine addict, insisted Harmon paid him for sex, but admitted he also hustled the priest for cash to support his drug habit. “I solicited him for money, but on the pretenses that I had something to hold against you,” Bergen said. Bergen has a long criminal record in Illinois stretching back to the 1980s, including retail theft, burglary, robbery, aggravated battery and attempted criminal transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Mulford said the prostitution allegation was examined by a special review board appointed by then-Bishop George Lucas. “Father Harmon was allowed to remain in ministry,” Mulford said. Since then, Harmon was given pastoral assignments in Ste. Marie, Tuscola, Arcola, Vandalia and Ramsey, all in the Diocese of Springfield. He also served as chaplain of the Vandalia Correctional Center and was associate director and later director of the diocese’s Office for the Diaconate.

In 2005, Harmon was accused of misappropriating $40,000 from St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Newton, Ill. In that case, Harmon agreed to repay the $40,000, plus the $8,000 cost of a financial audit, according to local news reports at the time. Harmon was pastor of St. Thomas from 2002-2006. A diocesan spokeswoman in 2005 described the financial irregularities this way: “Everything was in the books and accounted for, but it was more a matter of bad judgment and mismanagement rather than any kind of criminal activity.”

The Harmon case is the latest in a long string of black eyes for the Diocese of Springfield over the past three decades. Roman Catholic Faithful conducted a long investigation of what it alleged was a pattern of homosexual activity by Bishop Ryan, including sexually harassing diocesan priests, patronizing Bergen and a group of 10 or more male prostitutes, and exposing himself and masturbating in public at Springfield’s Douglas Park. Ryan denied RCF’s allegations. He died in 2015.

Ryan resigned in October 1999, just before a lawsuit was filed in Sangamon County Circuit Court accusing him of covering up the abuse of a former altar boy by the late Father Alvin J. Campbell. The lawsuit, which was later settled out of court, alleged Ryan’s longstanding pattern of homosexual behavior created an atmosphere of tolerance for sexual abuse of minors in the diocese.

Although Bergen was under 18 when his alleged sexual relationship with Ryan began, the diocese did not refer the case to the Sangamon County state’s attorney for investigation. Ryan suspended his public ministry after a man named Frank Sigretto alleged the bishop had sex with him at the cathedral rectory in 1984, when he was 15. In 2002, Sigretto’s allegation was added to the 1999 McCormick lawsuit filed against Ryan and the Diocese of Springfield.


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About Joseph M. Hanneman 11 Articles
Joseph M. Hanneman writes from Madison, Wisconsin.

24 Comments

  1. Our job is to pray for all those we read about because they are walking toward hell. We can form a general prayer that simply includes all of them in a group. Pray for your relatives and clergy by name but these people as simply a group or you’ll eventually not pray for them at all. They are in trouble and some of them don’t think so.

    • AMEN AND SPREAD THE REAL DESTRUCTION IN THE CHURCH SINCE 1929 WITH THE BELLA DODD MOVEMENT AND READ THE BOOK AA-1025 SATAN HAS ENTERED THE CHURCH AS GOD ALLOWED IT MATTHEW 16:18 STATES IT ALL ,, IT IS GODS ONE AND ONLY CHURCH AND SATAN WILL ALWAYS TRY TO DESTROY IT WITH THESE EVIL MEN WHO WERE BOUGHT TO COME IN AND DESTROY IT WE HAVE TO PRAY FOR OUR ENEMIES AND LOVE THEM IF WE ARE TRUE CHRISTIANS AT ALL AND REALLY LIVE THE GOSPELS … CHRIST DIED FORGIVING HIS KILLERS AND WE TOO MUST FORGIVE AND PRAY OR WE WILL NOT HAVE A GOOD DAY ON WHEN WE FACE OUR LORD.. HE WILL TURN HIS HEAD AND SAY HE DOES NOT KNOW US

  2. 1. What was the purpose of this article? 2. Was detraction involved when details were revealed which were of no legitimate concern to anyone other than the man’s superior and the members of the parishes in which he worked and the police?

    • Sharon:

      (1) The purpose of this article is to demonstrate, still once more, that the priesthood and episcopacy in this country (and worldwide) are infested with homosexuals, whether or not such deviants also molest under-age children or not. It is reliably estimated that 50% to 70% of priests are homosexuals; the estimate of homosexual bishops is even higher. Its purpose is also to demonstrate that the homosexual infestation of the priesthood and episcopacy involves networks of homosexuals, in this case “Father” Harmon and “Bishop” Ryan, no doubt including other Springfield priests.

      (2) Detraction is the sin of revealing another person’s real faults to a third person without a valid reason, thereby lessening the reputation of that person. The valid reasons for revealing “Father” Harmon’s are: (a) his possession of child pornography, which is a federal felony in addition to being a grievous mortal sin; (b) his embezzlement of $29,000 of money contributed by his lay parishioners to fund his homosexual trysts and cocaine binges, both of which are also federal and state felonies, in addition to being grievous mortal sins; and (c) the exposure of “Father” Harmon’s record of morally corrupt and criminal offenses that extends for at least 38 years since his 1990 ordination. All of these details are of legitimate concern to every Catholic man, woman, and child in the Diocese of Springfield and the Church in the United States who have a right to be protected from the evil and criminal acts of this wolf.

    • Sharon:

      1. The purpose of the article is to bring the evil done in darkness into the light.

      2. No, this does not involve detraction. It is a mistake for you to conclude that Catholics across the country have “no legitimate concern” about the facts of this case. Our church is a communion of faithful, and parishes and Dioceses are duty bound to serve this communion. They are not a confederation of “Limited Liability Companies” conformed to preserving “secret perversions.”

      All sexual sins are mortal sins, and secrecy and coverup by Bishops of patterns of fornication and sodomy by treacherous priests and bishops (in whatever numbers they exist) is what enables secrecy and coverup of sexual abuse of children by treacherous priests.

    • Oh, Sharon. Have you been asleep like Rip Van Winkle or something? We are in the middle of a massive scandal in the priesthood, where many, many homosexual priests are now being uncovered. We are now uncovering the onnnection between homosexual priests, and abuse of teeenagers and the young. Now, this guys reportedly had child pron on his computer, was stealing money, was engaging male adult prostitutes. There is a connection between all of these things and we neeed to understand these connections

    • Sharon, what is the purpose of your comment? Are you not concerned?

      There is a well known healing/retreat ministry founded by lay women from this parish years ago and some vulnerable people come there to seek spiritual and emotional healing, this is the local parish church. So that is one way that this story may affect the broader Catholic community–there’s actually a steady stream of Catholics who aren’t parishioners who visit there. A cover up and sweeping it under the carpet may shake and unnerve people more than being clear about what happened and how utterly unacceptable it was. I have never visited OSMM and have no connection to it but have always heard it is orthodox and good, and it is endorsed by some orthodox good people.

    • Actually, Sharon, if this priest had child porn he is guilty of a criminal act that puts him on a public sex offender list. Do you really think he is not a danger to people other than those in the parishes where he served?

    • 1. What was the purpose of this article?
      To wake people like you up.
      2. Was detraction involved when details were revealed which were of no legitimate concern to anyone other than the man’s superior and the members of the parishes in which he worked and the police?
      No. Detraction is not involved when an objectively valid reason exists which discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them.

      If, after dismissal from the clerical state, Barry J. Harmon shows up in your neighborhood, call the police.

  3. This story is a textbook example of the crisis in the Church. In fact, it is practically the paradigm followed by the corrupt bishops and priests of the American Church. Homosexuals protecting homosexuals, denying that their actions are criminal or that their victims are children, that their acceptance of a salary is dishonest, that helping themselves to the collection basket is theft. “Rev. Barry” only had “relations” with an adult male, and agreed to repay the “mismanaged” funds, so… no real problem! If one single parent had known that this priest had child porn, who would have tolerated him in the sanctuary, in the confessional, or the school? A ministry based entirely on lies and deception, approved by a lying, deceitful bishop… until he can no longer do so.

  4. This article regarding the priest in Illinois being removed for homosexual pornography, money shows us that the criminality in the current crisis isn’t only abuse of minors, of seminarians or of clerical powers, but of “immoral activity inconsistent with the life of a priest”.

    Many lay people in the Catholic Church are withdrawing their children from Catholic Schools favoring home schooling,
    others are withholding their children from becoming altar boys and still other parents fear their sons entering the priesthood due to rampant “immoral activity inconsistent with the life of a priest”.

    We are not observing a variety of separate crises, but aspects of the same crisis which is “immoral activity inconsistent with the life of a priest,” How many priests are living a life of “immoral activity inconsistent with the life of a priest” while they are hearing confessions, offering the Mass and performing other priestly services? Should people not expect priests to believe what they are saying and doing?

    To this end, all who present the current crisis as being of one thing but not another are making excuses for what has gone wrong in our Church. Five priests attended the homosexual party mentioned in the article with several dressed in drag and yet we know that if priests are scuffled to other parishes for abusing others and minors, they will certainly get a pass on things like cross dressing at a homosexual party.

    In Catholicism, this is not acceptable. It’s not a controversy but a crime that such is allowed to go on, and it is a crime to infer otherwise.

    • There was a time I wanted my oldest to be “the first American Pope.”
      .
      Now, I’m happy my boys do not have any interest in the priesthood. The oldest is in college now and regularly gets hit on by homosexuals even though they know he has a girlfriend. The youngest son has learning disabilities that would probably prevent him from entering, assuming he wanted to go to the seminary. Not a bad thing, since he is quite attractive, but shy, and I think could be fairly easy to bully.
      .
      As to the immorality of the priests–I hear that their sinfulness does not prevent the validity of the sacraments as long as they intend to perform them properly (or some such).
      .
      Alas, I find it impossible to believe a priest who is also a drug using drag queen could validly celebrate Mass/transubstatiation.

  5. If it was adult consensual sex that would be a matter for the unstable church fathers and the perp would not face civil authorities and the church would go into coverup. However, if the perp were to “misuse” innocent minors he should go two places… to civil court and then to HELL.

  6. Same old, same old. We are supposedly in a crisis *now,* but everyone knows that it’s been a decade or so now hat if a scandal breaks, we are relieved to simply find the sex involved is not gay or pedo- in nature. We are happily surprised if our priest is orthodox and not a kook. Etc. The crisis has been going on a long while. When McCarrick breezily misrepresented Rayzomger’s letter on communion, even then most bishops just let it go. And now we have Jim Martin, gayly explaining away or at least allowing mortal sin as a mere… well, difference. Hey, when did CRISIS Magazine start up?

  7. This article struck me deeply, as I was on a trip to Bavaria, Germany, last fall; and Fr. Barry Harmon was the priest. It was a Catholic site tour. I am a Reformed Faith Presbyterian Christian. Fr. Harmon and I had some good conversations. As I read this article, I wondered what should my reaction be. Of course, there is shock and sadness. But I realize God would have me pray for him that he would be led to confession to God, genuine repentance, restitution, and restoration. May he seek deliverance from bondage to sin, immorality and more, and may the Holy Spirit empower him to overcome and resist the bondage he is in and experience God’s love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, and peac.

  8. If I had a baby baptized by any of these priests or have been married by them, I would question the validity of the baptism and the marriage. I had wondered how these priests could pray the prayers of Mass and hold the precious Body and Blood of our Lord in their anointed hands while engaged in a sinful lifestyle, and I have come with an answer – it is because criminal minds and people without conscience think different than normal people because they believe they can get away with it, because they listen to, not the Holy Spirit, but the Master of Lies himself.

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  1. Where to Report Abuse, and the Removal of an Illinois Priest for Theft and Pornography. – Diocese of Jefferson City MO Process for promoting the LGBT/Transgendered Agenda for children

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