Conservative Catholics Take on Church in Albany

By Michael Gormley
Ithaca Journal [Albany NY]
Downloaded February 24, 2004

ALBANY -- A tolerance of homosexuality, feminism and liberal doctrine has led to the scandals nationwide and claims of a gay den of priests led by the Albany bishop, said conservative Catholics on Sunday.

"It's a matter that has to be handled within the church -- unfortunately the hierarchy does not seem to be willing to chop the head of a bishop off," Stephen Brady, founder of the Illinois-based Roman Catholic Faithful, said at a meeting in Albany. "So the only thing left is for the faithful to rise and stand up and let their voices be heard."

Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard has denied two recent allegations of improper homosexual relationships in the 1970s and others raised in a recently uncovered letter written in 1995. The confidential letter raised concerns about alleged homosexual affairs Hubbard had with Albany priests. The bishop said he has kept his vow of celibacy and has dismissed several priests from the 14-county diocese for credible sex abuse claims.

One hundred Brady supporters attended the event at an Albany hotel, while more than 50 protesters filled the back of the meeting room. Protesters speaking in support of Hubbard were drowned out by members of Roman Catholic Faithful reciting the Lord's Prayer and "Hail Mary."

A small protest in support of the bishop was held outside the Albany hotel. One Hubbard supporter, Gerry Ladouceur, 49, of Albany County, said Brady has his own agenda and is using the claims against Hubbard to promote it.

"(Brady's) quoted as saying he wants to take the diocese back," Ladouceur said. "The problem is he wants to take it back to the 15th century."

Brady hoped Sunday's event would attract new members in the latest in a series of meetings to force the resignations of bishops tainted by the sex abuse scandals nationwide. Roman Catholic Faithful aims to force the church to return to more traditional teachings of morals, ethics and religious doctrine. The group had arranged to meet in Albany before the claims against Hubbard heated up.

Albany Diocese spokesman Ken Goldfard told the Albany Times Union that Brady's group "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."

The diocese has hired a former federal prosecutor to conduct an independent investigation of sex abuse allegations against the bishop, outside the bishop's influence.

Brady said he plans to meet Monday with the investigator, Mary Jo White, who has established e-mail and voice mail sites for anyone to provide information in the case.

He said he will offer White no new evidence, but will warn her that the probe is already flawed.

"No one who has the real information is going to come forward to someone paid by the bishop," Brady said.

The priest who allegedly wrote the 1995 letter, the Rev. John Minkler, was found dead at his suburban Albany home a week ago on Sunday. The cause of his death is under investigation.


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