Accusations against Hubbard Fuel a Mission
Albany -- Catholic Group Seizes upon Claims to Voice Condemnation of Homosexuality in Church
By Brian Nearing
Albany Times Union [Albany NY]
February 22, 2004
A former federal prosecutor starting an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Bishop Howard Hubbard may find herself crossing paths with the owner of a Illinois pizza parlor who has long been looking to oust the bishop.
Stephen Brady heads Roman Catholic Faithful, a group he started in 1996 after he became convinced the Catholic church was being overtaken by homosexuals, feminists and others who he claims stray from traditional church doctrine.
Brady said his group started out small, but that it represents the concerns of a growing number of Catholics who have been shocked by the nationwide clergy sexual abuse scandal that erupted in the Boston Archdiocese in 2002.
"Child abuse by priests is just the tip of the iceberg," said Brady, who points to biblical injunctions that condemn homosexuality. "No homosexual should be a priest. This is a showdown, and we want our day in court."
The 53-year-old father of seven from Petersburg, Ill., is a theological soldier in the national schism between conservatives and liberals over the future of the Catholic Church. Brady is enmeshed in a heated controversy in the Albany Diocese surrounding the mysterious death of a priest in Watervliet.
Brady is coming to Albany this weekend, just days after former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White announced the start of her investigation of Hubbard.
She was hired by the diocese's Sexual Misconduct Review Board, which was created to look into claims of clergy sexual abuse. The 64-year-old bishop has denied the accusations against him that prompted White's inquiry.
Hubbard asked for such an investigation after claims by a local attorney about the diocese's mistreatment of child victims of sexual abuse by priests decades ago mushroomed this month into allegations of homosexual behavior against the leader of the region's 400,000 Catholics.
White, who earns $770 an hour as a partner in a major New York City law firm, prosecuted the 1993 World Trade Center bombers and helped convict mobster John Gotti when she was the U.S. attorney in Manhattan. At a news conference Thursday at the Desmond hotel in Colonie, she said she wasn't aware of Brady's activities.
Brady said his group has targeted Hubbard since the late 1990s and had been working with the Rev. John Minkler. The 57-year-old priest was found dead in his Watervliet home on Feb. 15, just days after being identified as the author of a 1995 letter to then-New York Archbishop John O'Connor that accused Hubbard of being a homosexual and of theological errors.
Diocese officials obtained a signed statement from Minkler that said he didn't write the letter to O'Connor, but Brady maintains he received the letter from Minkler three years ago and gave it last year to attorney John Aretakis, who has been battling with Hubbard and the diocese over their treatment of victims of clergy sexual abuse.
Aretakis has said Hubbard can't be fair with victims because the bishop himself is guilty of sexual misconduct.
Aretakis represents Andrew Zalay, a California man who shocked the diocese on Feb. 4 when he released suicide notes he said were written by his brother, Thomas, in 1978 that implicate Hubbard in a homosexual relationship. Two days later, Schenectady resident Anthony Bonneau appeared at a news conference arranged by Aretakis at which he accused Hubbard of paying him for sex when he was a teenage runaway living in Albany's Washington Park in the 1970s.
Aretakis also gave reporters copies of Minkler's letter this month but said he did not at that time know who wrote it.
"We really don't have any relationship with (Aretakis)," Brady said. "We've helped a lot of attorneys. God bless the attorneys that are doing this to uncover corruption. I hope they bankrupt these dioceses."
Brady's group is part of a "small, very vocal minority within the Catholic Church that are very alarmed at what they perceive to be the growing numbers of priests who are homosexual," said Elizabeth Pullen, a doctoral research at Drew University in Madison, N.J., who has studied clergy sexual abuse issues for a decade.
Pullen said conservative opponents are convinced that gay priests are responsible for sexual abuse of children and that the gay presence within the church is discouraging heterosexual men from entering the priesthood.
Most expert research, she said, separates homosexuality from child sexual abuse.
"This is turning into a rift between the progressives and conservatives within the church," she said. "Both sides are waiting for the other to leave."
Call to Action, a group of liberal Catholics that supports gay clergy, ordination of women and the option for priests to marry, is suspicious of the allegations against Hubbard and plans a conference in Albany in April. "We are very upset at the tactics that are being used," said Sally Orgren, the group's New York secretary. "This seems like such flimsy evidence."
Orgren, who lives near Buffalo, said conservatives "want to get us back to a certain point in the 1950s. There is a wide variety of opinion in the church, but they try to define orthodoxy in their terms."
Diocese spokesman Ken Goldfarb said Brady's group and The Wanderer, a weekly Catholic newspaper, "have for many years waged an unfortunate campaign of character assassination against church leaders with whom they disagree. While their efforts at church reform may once have been well-intended, they have long since wandered astray."
He cited a June 2003 article in the Illinois Times that quoted Brady saying, "We are in the business of destroying lives, but lives that need destroying."
The Wanderer has written extensively about Brady's efforts and espouses an archconservative view of Catholicism. A recent article, for example, is titled "Lucifer, The First Liberal."
In 1999, Brady made headlines when he exposed a Web site where Catholic priests swapped stories of their sexual exploits, occasionally involving young children. Since then, he's used his Web site as a clearinghouse for allegations on clergy misconduct. Brady claims his efforts have forced the resignations of six priests and two bishops, in dioceses from Dallas to South Africa.
The site -- www.rcf.org -- announces that his group is targeting Hubbard, the Albany Diocese and two other dioceses. Roman Catholic Faithful raised about $140,000 in donations in 2001, according to its latest federal tax report.
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