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ALBANY, N.Y. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Church Militant has obtained an explosive report chronicling the devastation wrought by former Albany Bp. Howard Hubbard (1977–2014).
Compiled by faithful priest Fr. John Minkler, the report consists of a 1995 letter to Cdl. John O'Connor, metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of New York, as well as handwritten notes from January 2001 naming and profiling Albany's homosexual priests.
Minkler died under mysterious circumstances two days after a secretive meeting with Bp. Hubbard. Although officials ruled it a suicide, those who knew him believe it was murder — related to his outing of homosexuality in the Albany diocese.
Father Minkler had begun documenting the unraveling of the diocese in the early 1990s and fed information to The Wanderer's Paul Likoudis for his 10-part 1991 series "Agony in Albany."
Word of what was happening in the Capital Region eventually made its way to Cdl. O'Connor, who quietly reached out to Minkler — his former secretary — to commission a report of dissent under Hubbard.
As Likoudis later explained, "Minkler, ordained in 1972, was a priest for five years when Hubbard was named Bishop of Albany, and saw the immediate effect he had on the diocesan priests."
From the beginning of his episcopate in 1977, Hubbard waged war against faithful clerics. His persecution strategy, Likoudis observed, included "banishing old urban pastors to remote rural outposts, showering favors on those priests who exhibited the most outrageous and immoral behavior, ridiculing and ostracizing faithful laity who tried to uphold Catholic orthodoxy, and promoting an agenda of homosexuality, androgyny and sexual dysfunction."
In a letter dated June 10, 1995, Minkler shared his findings with the cardinal. Having gathered testimony from "concerned clergy and laity who fear for the future" of the diocese, he informed O'Connor that under Hubbard, Albany's "general theological position" had become fundamentally "anti-magisterial." The diocese had become an epicenter of heterodoxy and heresy, he warned; at all levels, from the chancery to the individual parish, Hubbard was remaking Albany in his own image, and it was dying.
Ground zero for "the most organized anti-magisterial activity," Minkler noted, was the St. Bernard Institute (since 2003, St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry), a joint venture between the Albany and Rochester dioceses (the latter suffering equal devastation under homosexualist Bp. Matthew Clark, Hubbard's most intimate associate).
As an example of the institute's radicalism, Minkler recounted that a local deacon reported taking "a course in moral theology only to learn from the teacher that she is a lesbian who has had herself artificially inseminated to prove that it is not necessary to have relations with a man in order to become pregnant."
Such encounters, Minkler told O'Connor, were routine.
Minkler identified Fr. Thomas Powers as a linchpin in cultivating dissent. As director of continuing education for clergy, Powers organized annual workshops for Albany priests through the institute.
Invariably, Powers selected speakers who peddled heresy. They "denied the Real Presence, the institution of the sacrament of penance, the ontological understanding of the priesthood and ... the Catholic understanding of eternal life."
Minkler noted that Hubbard was "always present" during these presentations; time and again, the bishop witnessed open heresy hurled at his priests and did nothing to correct it.
The report also documented rampant liturgical abuse. Minkler described Hubbard as regularly taking "liberties with the Mass," consecrating hosts composed of "invalid matter," rushing through the liturgy and forcing his priests to use altar girls. The bishop often refused to "recite the formula of confirmation" while administering the sacrament and put a radical feminist ex-nun in charge of all liturgical events, "including ordination to the priesthood."
In the course of his research, Minkler also discovered that under Hubbard, the diocese of Albany had become a hotbed of abortion activism.
"While Bishop Hubbard once took public legal action to prevent Planned Parenthood from opening a new facility," he told O'Connor, "the general perception was that he was not sincere about it and did it only to correct his image as being soft on abortion."
In fact, Minkler learned that diocesan officials enjoyed warm relations with Planned Parenthood and quietly allowed abortions at Schenectady's St. Clare's Hospital.
"At least two Albany priests, Fathers Thomas Berardi and Christopher De Giovine, are known to advise pregnant girls to go to Planned Parenthood for abortions," he reported. "These priests make no secret of this, yet Bishop Hubbard appears not to correct it."
Meanwhile, one outspoken young cleric told Minkler he'd been ordered "never to preach about birth control or abortion again" by a chancery representative; reportedly the bishop "always had a problem with Humanae Vitae" and suppressed support for it among his priests.
Minkler noted that, not long into Hubbard's episcopate, Albany's parishes began to empty, while various fundamentalist Protestant, New Age and schismatic sects were flourishing, buoyed by the ongoing influx of ex-Catholics.
Their exodus was spurred by the new crop of heterodox (and largely homosexual) priests Hubbard was busy planting across the diocese. To bar faithful Catholic men from the priesthood, the bishop installed like-minded seminary "gatekeepers" to weed out candidates who didn't share his particular proclivities.
"The few seminarians that the Albany Diocese has are sent to St. Mary's in Baltimore and Theological College in Washington, D.C.," Minkler told O'Connor. "Both of these seminaries are noted for their anti-magisterial and pro-homosexual thrust. 'Normal' seminarians from Albany are frequently dropped because they are considered homophobic and/or too rigid, that is, pro-magisterial."
Father Minkler warned that Hubbard was intentionally cultivating an expansive homosexual network inside the diocese, informing Cdl. O'Connor that while rejecting spiritually and psychologically healthy young men, "The diocese regularly accepts and ordains seminarians who have been dropped by other dioceses because of their homosexual activity."
In fact, as early as 1991, Hubbard was voicing public support for homosexual ordinations.
"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," he said in an interview with his diocesan newspaper. "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."
In his letter to the cardinal, Minkler named more than a dozen actively homosexual clerics operating in Albany at that time, including multiple parish priests, the diocesan priest-personnel director, the judicial vicar, the chancellor, a vicar general — and Bp. Hubbard himself.
Regarding the bishop, Minkler detailed what he'd been told by various diocesan insiders:
Minkler delivered his report to Cdl. O'Connor without incident in June 1995. With that, Paul Likoudis later wrote, "The pleas of long-suffering Catholics living under the oppressive and destructive reigns of Albany's Hubbard and Rochester's Bishop Matthew Clark had finally reached their metropolitan's ears."
But progress ended there. Father Minkler later told Likoudis that during a visit to Rome, O'Conner shared his findings with Pope John Paul II and appealed for both Hubbard and Clark to be removed. Likoudis said that according to Minkler, the Pope responded, "There's nothing I can do." No further explanation was provided.
Over the next few years, Minkler continued to chronicle Albany's ongoing disintegration. In January 2001, he added a series of handwritten notes to a printed copy of his original letter, detailing names and profiles of the diocese's homosexual priests.
According to his additions, by the turn of the century, "At least 1/2 of the priests in the Albany Diocese seem to be gay." Of the priests working in the chancery at that time, Minkler said all but one — Fr. Ed Deimeke — were active homosexuals.
"Many lay persons assume that all priests are gay ... this report now is understated!" he wrote.
In February 2004, things came to a head in Albany. Early that month, former resident Andrew Zalay convened a press conference to announce that in 1978, Bp. Hubbard drove his brother Thomas to suicide by pressuring him into sex.
Zalay explained he had recently discovered his brother's suicide note, which until then his mother had kept hidden out of shame. Zalay shared that Thomas described being groomed and pressured into sex with Bp. Hubbard. He said Hubbard had tried to justify homosexual acts to him by suggesting the Bible defined celibacy as avoiding sexual contact with women.
Recognizing that homosexual acts are sinful, Thomas rejected the bishop's attempts to excuse the behavior. He explained he wanted to get away from Hubbard and indicated he felt the only way to escape the bishop's grasp was suicide. On April 19, 1978, Thomas set himself ablaze at his parent's home in Albany.
Hubbard launched an immediate counterattack. The bishop held his own press conference and declared he had been celibate since his ordination in 1963.
Hubbard's claim was soon undermined by allegations involving underage male prostitutes. Christian convert Andrew Bonneau, for example, stepped forward alleging that, years earlier, as a teenage runaway, he twice had sex with Hubbard in Washington Park, one of Albany's gay cruising hotspots. Bonneau said he was troubled by Hubbard's denial, and came forward out of a sense of Christian duty to protect other vulnerable minors.
The allegations spurred news teams into action, and Fr. Minkler's letter to Cdl. O'Connor was uncovered. On Feb. 12, a television news report named Fr. Minkler as the author of the Albany report.
Bishop Hubbard was enraged. According to Likoudis, on Feb. 13, Minkler was ordered to the chancery, where he was forced to sign an affidavit denying he had authored the 1995 letter.
That night, Fr. Minkler contacted Likoudis, reportedly telling him, "I signed it with mental reservations, and now I'm going to have to go to confession down in New York, because I can't go in this diocese."
"But in that long Friday evening conversation," the Catholic journalist later wrote, "Minkler sounded scared. He recounted the day's events, and feared that the disclosure of the letter he wrote to Cardinal O'Connor in 1995 — at the cardinal's request — would be disastrous for him."
He asked for advice, and he was extremely apprehensive about a forthcoming meeting with Hubbard, set for Monday, Feb. 16. I suggested that he pre-empt the meeting by holding his own press conference "and let everything out." His response was that if he did that, "I'd be dead."
Less than 48 hours later, he was dead.
Father Minkler was discovered dead inside his home on Sunday, Feb. 15, 2004. His death was ruled a suicide — a conclusion few who knew him accept.
On Feb. 16, Hubbard called a press conference, where he announced Fr. Minkler had not been summoned to the chancery, but came voluntarily.
"Father Minkler made an appointment to see me, and he told me that he did not author the letter," Hubbard claimed, adding "he wanted to be with me face-to-face and to assure me that he had not written anything to Cdl. O'Connor about me ... he did not know how his name got associated with the letter."
Likoudis never accepted the bishop's account. Hubbard, meanwhile, managed to weather the storms of 2004. Former prosecutor Mary Jo White was hired to investigate allegations of sexual impropriety. White eventually cleared the bishop, citing "no credible evidence."
Hubbard remained bishop of Albany for another ten years.
To read Fr. Minkler's 1995 letter, complete with January 2001 additions, click here.
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