The Bishop's Denials . . .
Reflections on a Press Conference and Agony in Albany
By Paul Likoudis
The Wanderer [Albany NY]
Downloaded February 27, 2004
Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany held a press conference on February 16. This was one day after Fr. John Minkler was found dead in his home in Watervliet, two days after Minkler was reportedly directed to sign an affidavit denying he wrote a letter to John Cardinal O'Connor, detailing sexual immorality and other problems in the Diocese of Albany. Bishop Hubbard explained, as reported by WNYT-TV's John Allen that evening:
"Fr. Minkler made an appointment to see me and he told me that he did not author the letter, and he wanted to be with me face to face and to assure me that he had not written anything to Cardinal O'Connor about me. . . . He did not know the priests that were named in the letter, and he did not know how his name got associated with the letter."
In that June 10, 1995 letter to Cardinal O'Connor, Fr. Minkler provided background information on more than a dozen priests he claimed were homosexual. (See accompanying news story for more background about Fr. Minkler and the letter.)
More than four years earlier than that, Fr. Minkler provided that same information and other material to this reporter for part IX of The Wanderer's ten-part series Agony in Albany, "The Bishop and His Circle," which appeared 13 years ago, beginning on March 7, 1991.
Here is a brief excerpt from that installment, published in the May 2, 1991 edition of The Wanderer. The excerpt appears between the plus marks:
It is often stated that a bishop's chancery is a reflection or an extension of the bishop's personality, carrying out his vision under his direction.
A key to Bishop Hubbard's personality is said to be revealed by looking at the major personalities who work with him in leading the Diocese of Albany.
A key figure is Vicar General Fr. Michael Farano, for many years chancellor of the diocese. Described as "more Machiavellian than Machiavelli," he is regarded as the bishop's "hatchet man". . . .
The judicial vicar is Fr. Anthony Diacetes, a graduate of the North American College, a former president of the Canon Law Society of America, who once announced at a public gathering that he wanted to be a bishop. Diacetes is a friend of Fr. Michael Place, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin's theological consultant, and the reputed author of the rejected document The Many Faces of AIDS. . . .
"When Hubbard gave Diacetes the tribunal," said another priest, "it was like taking a law school grad and putting him on the Supreme Court". . . .
When Edouard Cardinal Gagnon, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, offered some blunt criticisms of the annulment process in the United States, Fr. Diacetes responded by saying, "I think the Vatican is listening to a small, but very vocal, right-wing, radical minority that sees any change as a source and sign of disobedience and lack of tradition". . . .
Of Fr. Randall Patterson, the bishop's spokesman and chancellor. . . . [A] priest described Patterson as "inept." "He's not going to last long in the chancery," the source continued. "He's not doing a good job. . . . He's going to reveal too much of the truth about how things really operate in this diocese."
Fr. Thomas Powers is Bishop Hubbard's director of Continuing Education for Clergy, and a close friend of Bishop Hubbard and Bishop Matthew Clark since their days together at the North American College. . . . [He] is said "to want to be a bishop so bad he can taste it". . . .
+ + +
Agony in Albany also discussed several other priests and seminarians close to the bishop. Among them:
' Fr. Richard Fragomeni, the bizarre theologian who is now an associate professor of liturgy and preaching at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, and who is a regular speaker at Roger Cardinal Mahony's annual Religious Education Congress.
' Fr. Richard Vosko, the notorious church "wreckovator." Thirteen years ago, Agony in Albany revealed: "When Fr. Vosko goes into a parish he is about to renovate, he 'educates' people on the changes the church will go through. The communion rail, he points out in places where he is going to remove it, 'divides the sanctuary area from the people's area. In another age, it was used to keep animals from roaming freely in the church. The church wasn't just for worship; it was a marketplace. . . . There's no requirement for a railing today'."
In 1990, when the diocesan newspaper, The Evangelist, did a profile on Vosko, the former director of the Diocesan Liturgy Center, and his architectural firm, it reported that he had renovated 170 churches in 20 states, and in 1990 alone, he had 17 projects in 13 states and two Canadian provinces.
As Hubbard's top liturgist, Vosko began introducing altar girls to parish worship in 1976, and publicly advocated ordaining women. He also implemented a policy that all young women preparing for Confirmation be trained and installed as "acolytes" ' even though that order is reserved to men.
' Fr. Kenneth Doyle, who was at the time serving as the spokesman for the U.S. bishops at their Washington headquarters, was described by a priest as "someone to be watched, and someone the bishop will use to his advantage."
' Fr. Desmond Rossi, in 1991, was still a seminarian, but also someone for local Catholics to watch. Agony in Albany reported:
"There is no doubt that Bishop Hubbard is drawing men from other dioceses who want to serve under him because they share his vision of the Church.
"One such candidate is seminarian Desmond Rossi, who was featured April 18, [1991, seven weeks into Agony in Albany!] in The Evangelist's 'Focus on Vocations' section.
"Rossi is from Garwood, N.J., and is currently finishing his fourth year of seminary at the Theological College at Catholic University, Washington, D.C.
"He told Evangelist reporter Liz Urbanski that he wanted to be a priest in Albany 'because I wanted to become part of Bishop Hubbard's vision of the Church. I've always been very pleased with Bishop Hubbard. . . .
" 'The modern priest,' continued Rossi, ' is someone who is willing to talk about Christian values in the context of a society which contradicts those values. He is not a moral policeman but someone who walks beside you and helps you in your struggle with your own humanity, as he struggles with his own humanity'. . . .
" 'What is significant,' a priest told The Wanderer, 'is that in this vocations issue, we're hearing from Desmond Rossi and not from Bishop Hubbard'."
Also: Part IX of Agony in Albany concluded with a quotation from Bishop Hubbard, which was published in the February 22 issue of The Evangelist. This was after he had been informed that Agony in Albany was in preparation, and that one of its themes would be the homosexualization of the local clergy. That quotation follows:
"I believe the Church has a responsibility to all its members. . . . I don't think gays or anybody else should be excluded from the ministry. Indeed, I think we have a responsibility to reach out to them with sensitivity and compassion but at the same time I also believe that we have to proclaim the Gospel message as we understand it."
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