Former Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard admits to recycling abusive priests, SNAP is outraged

Last week Bishop Howard Hubbard, who headed the Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York, from 1977-2014, answered questions through his attorney for The Times Union newspaper. The Bishop told the paper that “When an allegation of sexual misconduct against a priest was received in the 1970s and 1980s, the common practice in the Albany diocese and elsewhere was to remove the priest from ministry temporarily and send him for counseling and treatment. Only when a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist determined the priest was capable of returning to ministry without reoffending did we consider placing the priest back in ministry. The professional advice we received was well-intended but flawed, and I deeply regret that we followed it.”

We are outraged that Bishop Hubbard minimizes the terrible consequences that resulted from the reassignment of clergy accused of sexual misconduct by calling it a “flawed” system. To us, this sounds like more of the same from Catholic officials, admitting to one thing while ignoring a thousand others. 

We are even more concerned for what may have occurred when Bishop Hubbard headed the Diocese of Albany because the Bishop has himself been accused of child sexual abuse in six separate lawsuits filed under New York's Child Victims Act. Five of those actions allege that Bishop Hubbard acted in concert with one or two other Albany priests to abuse the survivor. After the first of these lawsuits were filed, the Bishop stepped away from public ministry.

Given the power held by a diocesan bishop, we suspect that Bishop Hubbard had a direct hand in covering up for many abusers in the Diocese, leading to countless children suffering grievous and permanent harm. We hope that law enforcement officials are aware of this statement by Bishop Hubbard and will look closely at his admission.

We also hope that information such as this encourages other victims to come forward and report to the police and to New York Attorney General Letitia James. Anyone who may have seen, suspected, or suffered criminal behavior by any Catholic clergyman, brother, nun, staffer, or volunteer should speak up and tell law enforcement immediately.

CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager (267-261-0578, [email protected]), Brian Toale, SNAP New York (646-549-0372, [email protected]), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected])

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