In the Name of the Father II: The Pink Church?

“At the Vatican, a significant number of gay prelates and other gay clerics are in positions of great authority. They may not act as a collective but are aware of one another’s existence. And they inhabit a secretive netherworld, because homosexuality is officially condemned … For gay clerics at the Vatican, one fundamental condition of their power, and of their priesthood, is silence, at least in public, about who they really are.”

Michael Joseph Gross, The Vatican’s Secret Life


NBlHMRg© infrakshun

By the end of 2002, some 1,200 priests had been accused of abuse nationwide with millions of dollars of compensation being paid to victims. Although five US prelates resigned in the ensuing maelstrom, this is a rather weak result when set against the sheer scale of abuse. The same story has been repeated in Europe accusations of which led to prosecutions and a sprinkling of cases where evidence was lacking. Bishops from Argentina, Germany, Ireland, Poland, Wales, Scotland, Canada, Switzerland and Austria were also forced out of the church. More than 80 per cent of the church’s victims were male.

It is worth noting that Catholic Church in Ireland has been particularly high up on the league tables of general crimes and conspiratorial wrangling. Humiliation, terror, violent rape and long term molestation matched the US experience when four decades of abuse by 21 priests at the Ferns diocese in the East Ireland town of Wexford was discovered. [1] The practice of moving priests away from positions which had become “unfriendly” for abuse, led to the molesters being placed in posts at schools or other local parishes. This was followed by allegations against a total of 27 priests who served in the archdiocese of Tuam, though six are now dead. Eight clerics left the priesthood in Tuam “after a ‘reasonable suspicion’ that child abuse had taken place was established. Three clerics have already been convicted of horrific child sex abuse charges. The earliest case revealed… date[d] back to 1940.”  Other claims against seven priests from other dioceses were also lodged. [2]

An April 2005 report in The New York Times gave details about a three-member panel appointed by the Irish government, showed that the Catholic Church hierarchy in Ireland: “… was only one part of a system that enabled cover-ups allowing known sexual predators to retain their positions within the church – and their access to young victims.”

The report continued:

“Before 1990, the panel found, the police were reluctant to investigate claims of sexual abuse by the clergy because they were fearful of challenging the privileged position of Roman Catholic Church authorities.
Most schools in Ireland are run by the Catholic Church, so even lay teachers found it difficult to sound alarms. In addition, public health authorities failed to follow up on some accusations of abuse and cut short other inquiries.
For nearly three years, the commission, led by a former Supreme Court judge, heard more than 100 accusations of abuse against 26 priests over a 40-year period in one diocese, Ferns, on Ireland’s southeast coast.

One-fifth of the report’s 271 pages are taken up by testimony, often verbatim and frequently explicit, from the victims. It includes accounts of priests at a Catholic boarding school who measured boys’ penises at night, of boys who were forced to perform oral sex on priests and of girls who were molested during confession, one even on a church altar.

An investigation of 60 accusations of abuse in the Dublin archdiocese began this week, and a public debate has begun about whether to end the Catholic Church’s role in the Irish education system. About 95 per cent of Ireland’s elementary schools are state-financed but run by Catholic authorities.” [3]

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In April 2002, Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and other Church leaders finally summoned by the Pope told a news conference that they had all signed a letter vowing that: “we stand ready to take the steps needed to strengthen our past resolve and to keep children and young people safe for the future and to help heal those so tragically hurt by this abuse.” Obviously this was due to media pressure rather than any sudden development of conscience. Despite this attendance they felt that sexual predation by “men of God” did not merit a “zero tolerance” approach, although a handful of archdiocese took up the gauntlet.

Overall, the rules fell way short and once again, harked back to the same rapid back-peddling enacted by Ratzinger and Cardinal Law that prolonged the cover-up as a whole. A zero tolerance policy and a national policy on dealing with allegations of sexual abuse was formally agreed – on paper at least – at a U.S. Conference of Bishops in late June 2002. However, by June 2005, while setting aside a welcome $1 million to “partially finance a broad study of the causes of abuse within the nation’s largest religious denomination,” considerable tinkering with the wording of the national policy had taken place resulting in what many believe to be a somewhat diluted version. One leading victim advocacy organization said these new changes approved by the bishops weakened the abuse policies, first adopted in 2002. But the bishops, seemingly overjoyed by their “decisive response” dismissed the critics’ fears with Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, viewing such criticism issuing only from the “enemies of the church.”

Despite ostensible improvements in policy (which appear open to erosion) many critics cite the Church’s refusal to publicly identify all abusive priests; the failure to seek special penalties for bishops who abused minors or for bishops who failed to remove abusive priests from the ministry as yet more reasons to distrust the motives of Catholic Church hierarchy. Church bureaucracy and the implementation of waivers via their Statutes of limitations, along with the aforementioned revisions in national policies have caused serious concern among former victims: “George, the vice president of the bishops conference and the bishops’ lead negotiator with the Vatican on sexual abuse policy, said he did not believe the proposed revisions would lead to any change in the way bishops handle allegations against priests. And, he said, the National Review Board’s status would not change. He said that the board was never independent of the bishops and that all appointments to national posts by the bishops’ conference are already vetted by local bishops.” [4]

Did the rot not set in precisely due to the fact that there was vetting biased towards preferences and proclivities? George seemed to be celebrating the fact of the old boy’s network in action. An independent review board consisting of a mix of priests, theologians and civic representatives was obviously too threatening.

Reports from 2005 – 2007 found that hundreds of priests accused of abuse had been moved from country to country, allowing them to start new lives in unsuspecting communities while continuing to work in church ministries. Other findings reported in 2002 identified 200 cases involving clergy who had tried to elude law enforcement. Many priests remained free in one country while facing on-going criminal inquiries, arrest warrants or convictions in another. The research found that “Although most runaway priests remain in the church and should be easier to locate than other fugitives, police and prosecutors often fail to take basic steps to catch them. Dozens of priests who are no longer eligible to work in the United States have found sanctuary abroad.” [5]

It is also the fantasies of the “flock” that exacerbate the problem of bringing those responsible to justice. Many cannot bring themselves to accept that the dear old white, wispy-haired Reverend may have sat their niece or nephew on his knee for reasons diametrically opposite to goodness and service. However, investigations have been carried out where priests have been wholly innocent of any wrong doing. Accusations do seem to have the same effect of instantaneous guilt. Though looking at the history so far, the prevalence of the guilty far outweighs those who have been wrongfully accused. The case of Rev. Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany’s Diocese in New York, who was cleared of any wrongdoing with overwhelming support of his congregation, may be a case in point, or it may be more evidence of primary psychopathy.

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Rev. Bishop Howard Hubbard

From his staunchly Catholic and conservative stronghold the backing comes from what his congregation say is Hubbard’s consistent example that has shown in his work for the poor and oppressed. Indeed, in Rev. Hubbard’s own words: “I stand before you today with a clear conscience,”… “I am at peace with God and within myself, because there is absolutely no truth to the allegations which have been levelled against me.” [6] And there many members of Albany’s public who were not so quick to defend the priest. Nonetheless, there are still a host of questions to be answered which may prove to have a bearing on the Reverend’s denials.

Andy Zalay came forward with:

“… allegations that his brother Tom, who committed suicide in 1978, had a sexual relationship with Bishop Hubbard. On Friday, 42-year-old Anthony Bonneau said he was paid for sex by Hubbard.” […] Catholic Agnes Bopp said, ‘It’s terrible. The bishop is the most wonderful person in the world. He is the best bishop we’ve ever had.’” [7]

Born-again Christian, Anthony Bonneau, finally spoke publicly in opposition to the tide of support for Hubbard, whom he called “a Washington Park predator.” Bonneau claimed to have been a 16-year-old runaway “when the Albany bishop twice paid him for sex in Albany’s Washington Park. Bonneau told the Times-Union that he recognized Hubbard as one of his johns about ten years ago when he saw the bishop on television. At the time, he said he told only his wife.” [8]Like Andy Zalay, Bonneau had no interest in pursuing allegations to claim compensation. It was Hubbard’s public statement of denials which compelled him to come forward. His motivation was “out of a sense of Christian duty in hopes of protecting other children.”

Hubbard always remained adamant that he was innocent of the allegations made against him. What casts a shadow over his now successful quest to clear his name is the strange death of Fr. John Minkler who was found dead at his home on Sunday, February 15, 2004. Two days before, the dead priest had taken part in a television news programme which explored his own 1995 report addressed to New York’s Cardinal John J. O’Connor. What was interesting about this report was the fact that it contained information regarding “a ring of homosexual Albany priests.” This included Bishop Howard Hubbard’s alleged long-term homosexual relationships with two younger priests.

Journalist Paul Likoudis, writing for The Wanderer (an online Newspaper of the National Catholic Weekly) had worked closely with Fr. John Minkler for 13 years to “expose the corrupt clerical culture in Albany.” Minkler was one of four priests who provided the bulk of the chancery “inside information” for The Wanderer’s 1991, ten-week series, “Agony in Albany.” He related how, in his view, the death of Minkler was far from coincidental. He was certainly in the position to know, having been closely acquainted with the deceased.

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photos of eight victims out of many thousands

The story begins with the Priest returning from a retreat. He had been ordered to the Chancery for an urgent meeting by his friend and colleague Fr. Kenneth Doyle, Albany diocesan spokesman and a civil and canon lawyer. Minkler was presented with an affidavit by Doyle where it was declared that: “…he never wrote the letter to O’Connor; that he had never spoken with attorney John Aretakis (who handed out two copies of the letter to reporters, some of whom already had it) — which was true; that he had never made such allegations against Hubbard; and that he had “never, in writing or otherwise, communicated with the Archdiocese of New York regarding such allegations.”

The affidavit concluded:

“I make this statement of my own free will and I know that making a false statement is a crime.” Contrary to Fr. Minkler’s recollection to this reporter, made six hours after his visit to the chancery, Hubbard told reporters at a press conference after Minkler’s death was reported: “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.”

The meeting with Doyle was very brief, and he only saw Hubbard from a hallway, Minkler told this reporter, “Fr. Doyle had this disclaimer all made out, and he said, ‘Sign it’. “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,” Minkler said. [9] [Emphasis mine]

However, Likoudis relates how Minkler, one of the Bishop’s major detractors “sounded scared” during their Friday evening conversation. The cause of this fear stemmed from the disclosure of the letter he had been requested to write to Cardinal O’Connor in June 10, 1995 and how he feared it would be prove “disastrous” for him. The Priest had worked for the Cardinal as a private secretary when O’Connor was head of the military vicariate. Apprehensive about a scheduled meeting with Rev. Hubbard on February 16th Minkler had contacted Likoudis for advice:  “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.’”

The claims of abuse by a select group of priests under the Albany’s Hubbard and Rochester’s Bishop Matthew Clark had been circulating for some time. In confiding to Likoudis, Minkler also mentioned that O’Connor had “told him to prepare a brief on Hubbard that he would personally turn over to Pope John Paul II.” According to Minkler: “O’Connor, during a visit to the Vatican made a personal appeal to John Paul II to remove both Hubbard and Clark, and the Holy Father told O’Connor, “There’s nothing I can do.”

The majority of the letter – which included names – concentrated on allegations of recruiting homosexual men to the diocesan priesthood while at the same time turning away heterosexual men from applying; recruiting seminarians from other dioceses who had been reported and fired for homosexual activity; a kind of homosexual nepotism with solicitations from former or present “lovers” for the priesthood. The letter also focused on allegations that: “doctors and other professional health care workers had reported seeing AIDS patients who claimed they had relationships with Albany priests…”  Hubbard featured prominently in the letter where it was stated that he had long-term, homosexual relations with two young priests. According to Likoudis, Minkler also “provided names and proclivities of the homosexual priests in the diocese.” [10]

Fr. Joseph F. Wilson of the Diocese of Brooklyn spoke with Fr. Minkler by telephone on the evening of his death and found that he had “no reservations whatsoever about his state of mind when I finished talking to him that night.” As Paul Likoudis mentioned, Fr. Minkler was a “trusted source of inside information in the Diocese of Albany” … critical of Bishop Howard Hubbard.” The cause of death was a heart attack, though there appears to have been some confusion as to whether it was initially a suicide.


“A disproportionate number of homosexuals are being recruited into our seminaries. I know of one seminary, where two years ago, 60 percent of the students identified themselves as “gay”, 20 percent were confused about their sexual identity, and only 20 percent considered themselves to be heterosexual.”

– Pastor Ignotus, ‘What are we Advertising?’ The Tablet, April 24th 1999


Michael J. Rose of online journal crux.com informs us of another suspicious death from 1998 and the subject of one of the most extensive FBI investigations in Wisconsin history. The crime involved a Fr. Alfred Kunz who was murdered at his rural parish from a slice to the throat with a razor blade. The priest had bled to death before being discovered the following morning. Kunz, an accomplished canon lawyer: “… investigated homosexual corruption in the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois. Less than two years after the death of Fr. Kunz, Springfield’s Bishop Daniel Ryan resigned after Frank Bergen, a former male prostitute, identified the bishop as one of his regular high-paying clients for 11 years, going so far as to describe in detail the bishop’s private residence. Bishop Ryan, however, steadfastly denied that charge and others for years before he resigned.” [11]

Either way, Hubbard is fully exonerated while the puzzle remains. The priest’s alleged promotion of a homosexual agenda or his opposition to the “zero tolerance” policy can only heighten the mystery surrounding Minkler’s death, which was in the middle of seeking reformative changes in the Albany diocese. Given that two of the three accusers against the bishop are dead – questions will naturally remain. The gay-friendly reputation of the Diocese of Albany and of neighbouring Rochester is not the problem. The circumstances of Minkler’s death set against a history of global homosexual and/or paedophile rings in the Church suggests deception and cover-up that begins to relate to a wider macro-social pattern.

Bishop Hubbard and others of his ilk may be exactly as they say they are – men with a clear conscience. We must then look at why the persistent accusations keep returning and with substantial cause. If nothing else, the Hubbard case does show how difficult it is to restore trust when such an institution remains shrouded in secrecy and lies.

Most theology historians worth their salt will tell you that Christianity has been replete with homosexual priests. A high proportion of priests are gay and have been open to the accusation that they are hostile to the ordination of women priests and antagonistic to idea of marriage among the clergy, not simply due to catholic doctrine.  It should come as no surprise that if the Catholic Church can be against child abuse while harbour child rapists within their ranks then they even more likely to countenance a “gay lobby” in their corridors of power while preaching anti-gay dogma.

The well recognized prominence of homosexuality in Church and politics could be seen as a major factor in abuse though not a reason for paedophilia and child molestation. Jason Berry, the Christian author of Lead us not into temptation found 40 to 50 per cent of Christian clergy to be overtly homosexual. (a further summary of homosexual priest statistics can be found at religious tolerance.org) Politically, paedophilia has been sort after for those to occupy key positions in government as a means for blackmail. In the Church the core infection of such a practice is a by-product of its hierarchical structure and secretive traditions. Predators go where they can best pursue their prey from the shadows of authority and since authority breeds the same predilection for abuse it veers toward a chicken-and-egg situation.

There is a distinction between actual paedophilia and pederasty which often gets confused. Relationships with teenagers (pederasty) according to one study formed over 81 per cent of discovered abuse. [12] With the new directives prohibiting gay men or “anyone who has been part of a gay subculture or had lived promiscuously as a heterosexual would be refused admittance into the Catholic priesthood” one can only wonder if this isn’t missing the point. [13] Preferences for male or female is not the issue. Rather, the issue of the Catholic Church itself that harbours such psychopathy and indeed may have found itself comprehensively ponerised by elements of the same.

In 2013, nothing has changed to allay fears of the Catholic faithful that abuse has stopped and that a gay lobby has been disbanded. In the UK, Cardinal Keith O’Brien resigned having been accused of “homosexual misconduct” whilst another priest in Scotland is suspended for daring to suggest that “homosexual priests intimidate others in the clergy.”  More importantly, back in New York’s Albany diocese was ordered by a Federal judge to turn over its clergy abuse files spanning 40 years. However, it seems this too favours the guilty. The request includes a sealing order which will keep the records from being made public. The request came from Albany diocese diocese and none other than  Gary J. Mercure who is “… an imprisoned Albany priest who is accused of systematically raping and abusing altar boys for years.”

It seems the Church and State never separated after all.

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Notes

[1] Francis D. Murphy, Helen Buckley, and Larain Joyce, The Ferns Report, presented by the Ferns Inquiry to the Minister for Health and Children (Dublin: Government Publications, October 2005).
[2] ‘New abuse timebomb’by Brian MacDonald, Irish Independent, October 31, 2005.
[3] ‘Ireland shaken by sex abuse report’ By Brian Lavery, The New York Times, November 13, 2005.
[4] ‘Catholic bishops retain ‘zero tolerance’ policy’ – Will set aside $1m for sex abuse study By Michael Paulson, The Boston Globe, June 18, 2005.
[5] ‘Untouchable – Runaway Priests hiding in plain sight’, By Reese Dunklin. The Dallas Morning News June 20, 2004.
[6] ‘In Albany, sexual accusations raise a bishop’s high profile’ By Darryl McGrath, The Boston Globe, March 14, 2004.
[7] Capital News 9, Feb 8, 2004.
[8] ‘Priest’s mysterious death complicates’ Albany bishop’s quest to clear his name Michael S. Rose cruxnews.com., 27 February 2004.
[9] ‘Mystery Surrounds Death Of Priest’ By Paul Likoudis, The Wanderer Newspaper Online, wanderer.com. February 26, 2004.
[10] ‘Priest’s mysterious death complicates’ Albany bishop’s quest to clear his name Michael S. Rose cruxnews.com., 27 February 2004.
[11] Ibid.
[12] ‘Catholic bishops retain ‘zero tolerance’ policy Will set aside $1m for sex abuse study’ By Michael Paulson, The Boston Globe, June 18, 2005.
[13] Ibid.
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