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ALBANY, N.Y. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A scandal-plagued U.S. prelate has passed away, one day after being hospitalized for a stroke.
Retired Albany bishop Howard Hubbard died today at age 84. This comes just weeks after news broke that Hubbard civilly married a woman.
Albany's current bishop, Edward Scharfenberger, released the following statement:
The life of a priest is never about himself but for those whom he serves, to whom he is sent. As we commend our brother, Howard Hubbard, to the God of all mercy, we pray also for all those who, throughout the course of his life, as priest, bishop and friend, were inspired and encouraged along their own journey, especially those who received the sacraments through his ministry. Priests are called to sanctify, to "make holy," to lift others up to God. As all priests are human, broken men, in need of redemption themselves from their own sins, we also pray for those who were in any way hurt or wounded by any priest they may have encountered. We join with everyone who can see this moment as an occasion to pray for all priests, living and deceased, and those they serve, to lift up our minds and hearts to the one God who alone knows our hearts and seeks the salvation of us all.
As Church Militant noted earlier this month, Hubbard has been accused of sexual abuse and was facing several lawsuits filed under New York's Child Victims Act. Hubbard has also admitted to shuffling predator priests between parishes and failing to report abuse allegations to police.
In a July letter, Hubbard revealed that he tied the knot after he had "fallen in love with a wonderful woman who has helped and cared for me and who believes in me."
The retired prelate sought laicization from the Vatican but was denied. "In March, I received notice from the Vatican that my request had been denied," penned Hubbard. "I was encouraged to wait patiently and prayerfully and to continue to abstain from public ministry until seven civil lawsuits against me alleging sexual misconduct had been adjudicated."
In response to news of invalid marriage, Bp. Edward Scharfenberger stated that "the Church does not acknowledge his marriage as valid. He remains a retired bishop of the Roman Catholic Church and therefore cannot enter into marriage."
After he announced the attempted marriage, Hubbard wrote that he was praying for four things:
(1) That survivors of clergy sexual abuse and their families will find the peace, healing and reconciliation to which they are entitled; (2) That I will have the opportunity to prove my innocence to the allegations against me before a court of law, (3) That with whatever time God continues to grant me on this earth, our marriage will be one of fidelity, love and service, and (4) that the Vatican will eventually grant me laicization and recognize our marriage.
Hubbard was the bishop of Albany at the time of the mysterious death of Fr. John Minkler, a priest who was investigating the homosexual cabal in the Albany diocese. Father Minkler's death was ruled a suicide, but some experts believe the evidence suggests he was murdered.
Church Militant will continue to follow this developing story.