Bishop Releases His Own Records

Troy Record [Albany NY]
February 13, 2004

ALBANY - After a hectic week of defending himself against charges that he broke his vow of celibacy in the 1970s, Bishop Howard J. Hubbard Thursday released his personnel files to The Record in another effort to clear his name.

The contents of the 3-inch-thick, 641-page file, of which several pages were written in Latin, reveal little about Hubbard that Capital District residents don't already know. The file includes resumes through the years, correspondence to and from the bishop, photos, details about pastoral visits and a variety of newspaper clippings.

One of those clippings refers to the priest scandal that has plagued the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese: A Daily Gazette of Schenectady article with the headline "Hubbard not IDing accused priests."

Hubbard released the file as part of a public relations campaign to clear his name of two allegations of sexual improprieties. He has met or will meet with three area newspaper editorial boards and held a press conference for television outlets Thursday.

On Feb. 5, Andrew Zalay brought forward what he claims is a suicide note written by his brother Thomas. The note says the then 25-year-old Thomas Zalay had a relationship with Hubbard that, in part, drove him to suicide. Thomas Zalay had a history of mental illness and ended his life by lighting himself on fire in 1978.

A day later, Anthony Bonneau claimed that while he was working as a prostitute in Albany's Washington Park, Hubbard paid him for sexual favors on two occasions.

Hubbard has categorically denied the charges, saying he does not know anyone in the Zalay family and that he has never had sexual relations with anyone.

Commenting on the release of Hubbard's personnel file, attorney John Aretakis, who represents many clients who say they have been sexually or mentally abused by priests, said, "I will reserve comment until I've had the opportunity to see it, and I will call on the bishop to release all of the files of accused priests."

He added, "Since he has acknowledged removing ap- proximately 21 priests for sexual abuse of children, I am confounded by the fact that he won't release the files of at least those 21.

"The reason he won't release those files is because they implicate him as bishop over and over again in continued situations where these priests were threats to young and vulnerable children."

In a quick review of Hubbard's personnel file, one thing is certain: The bishop has been a very busy man since his ordination as a priest in 1963.

He served as associate pastor at various churches in the diocese. In 1972, he was named to the Priests Personnel Board. He was coordinator of the Albany Urban Apostolate and chairman of the Ecumenical Committee for the diocese. In 1974, he became director of the Pastoral Planning Committee. He became a Diocesan Consultor in 1976 and, in June of that year, became the vicar general of the diocese. In November 1976, he was elected vicar capitular, or acting bishop, of the diocese. He was ordained bishop on March 27, 1977.

Hubbard was involved in the community at large for many years. Some of his work includes: co-founding Hope House in 1967; member of the Vietnam Veterans Foundation; member of the Inmate Family Visiting Foundation; and president of the Albany Urban League.

He was honored with numerous awards, including the Ebbie Award in 1997 from the Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Circle of Humanity award by Temple Israel in 1998 and the Four Chaplains Award from the Jewish War Veterans in 1984.

His community work has been so vast that it became a concern in the early 1970s to Rev. Matthew H. Clark, a Waterford native and current bishop of the Rochester diocese who was then chairman of the Priests Personnel Board. Upon Hubbard's appointment to the chancery staff, Clark, in a letter to then-Bishop Broderick, wondered who would carry on Hubbard's work should he join the chancery staff.

"He and his programs are saying something important about the church to large segments of the community who otherwise don't listen to the church at all," Clark wrote.

"There are few priests better known or respected - certainly in the Capital District and quite likely in the entire diocese," the letter states.

The file contains many letters of thanks and congratulations on his 20th and 25th anniversary celebrations, as well as photographs of Hubbard on trips at home and abroad - even on horseback in Warrensburg for St. Cecelia's 125th anniversary parade.

There are hints that show Hubbard is a fighter, however. In a 1998 delivery to the Founder's Convocation at St. John's University, he took on former Times Union columnist Dan Lynch for a column Lynch wrote two years earlier criticizing Hubbard for participating in a press conference urging the governor to ask for a federal waiver from denying food stamps to home relief beneficiaries.

Lynch said politics and religion should not cross paths. Hubbard said the church should have a role in forming public policy based on the moral teachings of the church.

There are photos of Hubbard with Pope John Paul II, state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, Assemblyman Pat Casale and socialite Mary Lou Whitney and countless certificates of appreciation and recognition, including those from the Rensselaer County Legislature, St. Patrick's School in Troy and the now defunct Martin Luther King Jr. Commission.


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