Investigation Has Support of Cardinal Egan

By James V. Franco
Troy Record [Albany NY]
March 10, 2004

ALBANY - Cardinal Edward Egan, in town for the annual Catholic Conference of New York lobby day, said he supports Bishop Howard Hubbard and the ongoing efforts to clear Hubbard's name of allegations of homosexual behavior.

"A very important person was asked to look into this in a very official and a very systematic matter, and that is under way right now," Egan said of the investigation into the allegations against Hubbard. "So I am going to join you and wait to find out just exactly what the outcome is.

"In the meantime, I am going to assure you the good bishop of Albany is a man we support, for whom we pray and, especially, do we pray for the people of God in the diocese of Albany."

He would not directly comment about the cost of hiring former U.S. attorney Mary Jo White at $770 an hour, plus staff and expenses, to investigate the allegations.

"I don't know about the money, but I do know there is a very appropriate effort being made to see to it this matter be clarified to the satisfaction of everyone," Egan told a throng of reporters. "I hope that is appreciated and admired by everyone."

On Feb. 4, a California man, Andrew Zalay, came forward through attorney John Aretakis and accused Hubbard of having a homosexual affair with his brother Thomas. Andrew Zalay produced two notes purportedly written by Thomas that said the relationship was one reason Thomas killed himself in 1978 at the age of 25.

Two days later another man, Anthony Bonneau, a former male prostitute, claimed that Hubbard solicited him for sex some 30 years ago in Albany's Washington Park.

A short time later, Aretakis released a letter purportedly written by Rev. John Minkler claiming a number of priests were engaging in homosexual activity, including Hubbard. Minkler was found dead in his Watervliet home just days after signing an affidavit stating he did not author the letter. His death is under investigation.

Hubbard has staunchly and vigorously denied all the accusations, and in addition to hiring White, has taken his case to the public through the media.

Also thrust to the forefront of the conference's agenda - along with traditional efforts that include increased funding for social programs, parental choice in education and increasing the minimum wage - was a staunch opposition to gay marriages and civil unions.

Legislatively, the controversial and emotionally charged issue of gay marriages took center stage for the Catholic Conference.

Basically, the church feels that marriage is "not merely a private arrangement, but is of vital concern to all members of our society," according to literature distributed by the Catholic Conference.

In addition, the church thinks non-traditional and non-marital unions do not result in long-term commitment and stability, leading to an undermining of society itself.

"A marriage would be an agreement to be faithful, to stay together in a union between a man and a woman with openness to children and a seeking of mutual support," Egan said after a closed-door meeting with state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno. "I don't believe this is anything new. I believe this is perhaps the position of every civilization as long as we know."

There are two bills pending in Albany, one that would restrict marriage to a male and a female and one that would allow two people of the same sex to wed. It remains unclear when, or if, they will be voted on.

The issue of gay marriages exploded with a recent court ruling in Massachusetts legalizing same-sex marriage in that state and a number of mayors taking it upon themselves to deem same-sex marriages legal and perform marriage ceremonies.

New Paltz Mayor Jason West performed 25 same-sex marriages last week in downstate New York.

The church does think homosexuality is a disorder, but that gays and all people have an "innate dignity." Hubbard has said it is OK for a priest to be gay as long as sex is not practiced.

Democratic Assemblyman Steven Sanders, who has seen his gay-rights bills opposed by the Catholic Conference in the past, said he supports the cardinal's right to lobby on the issue.

"I think they are absolutely entitled to their views," Sanders told The Associated Press. "But I don't think it comes as any large surprise that the Catholic Conference is opposed. ... I don't believe this changes the dynamic of the issue."


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