A Philadelphia priest who was temporarily removed in the wake of the 2011 investigation into clergy sex abuse, and then reinstated, has again been removed from ministry.

The Rev. Steven Harris, most recently the pastor of St. Bridget Church in East Falls, has been put on administrative leave by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput.

"The archdiocese was made aware of possible concerns regarding his suitability for ministry at this time," said an announcement shared at St. Bridget's weekend Masses and posted on the parish's Facebook page.

Kenneth Gavin, a spokesman for the archdiocese, declined Monday to discuss the reason for Harris' removal, except to say it did not involve alleged criminal activity or inappropriate contact with children. Gavin said the matter would be "thoroughly reviewed" but did not elaborate.

Cameron Kline, a spokesman for the Philadelphia District Attorney's office, said Monday he was not aware of any allegations involving the pastor.

In 2011, Harris was among more than two dozen parish priests removed from ministry while the church reexamined past claims of clergy sex abuse or misconduct involving children - the largest such suspension in the decade or so since the clergy sex abuse scandal erupted. After internal investigations by the archdiocese, slightly more than half the accused priests were permanently removed from ministry.

Harris, pastor of St. Isaac Jogues Church in Chesterbrook from 2009 to 2011, was among those reinstated. He returned in 2012, after the archdiocese said a team of church investigators had found the allegations against him to be unsubstantiated.

At the time of his reinstatement, the archdiocese said Harris had been investigated for allegedly violating the "standards of ministerial behavior and boundaries" - guidelines for clergy, staff, and volunteers who interact with children and young people. Violations of those standards would fall short of sexual abuse but could include inappropriate comments, touching, or behavior that could be considered grooming of abuse victims.

Harris was ordained in 1980 and previously taught at Cardinal O'Hara High School in Delaware County and St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

Following his reinstatement, Harris first worked for the Office of the Metropolitan Tribunal and the Chancery Office. He was named pastor of St. Bridget's in June.

The Rev. Stephen DeLacy, director of vocations for the archdiocese, said Monday that he had been named administrator of St. Bridget's "at least to get the parish through the holidays."

DeLacy said he lives in the rectory at St. Bridget's, but does not usually spend much time with parishioners. He described the parish as tight-knit and "such a great community."

Harris is not the only archdiocesan priest from the 2011 case to be twice be removed from ministry.

The Rev. Michael Chapman, former pastor of Ascension of Our Lord Church in Northeast Philadelphia, had been cleared of misconduct in spring 2012. Four months later, Chapman was preparing to return to active ministry when a new allegation surfaced against him. He was later permanently removed from ministry.


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