Retired bishop accused of abuse now married

Retired bishop marries

A retired bishop who is a defendant in multiple sexual misconduct lawsuits revealed on Tuesday that he recently married a woman after the Vatican declined his plea to leave the clergy.

Bishop Howard J Hubbard (pictured) served as the leader of the Albany NY diocese from 1977 until his retirement in 2014. He holds the title of emeritus bishop and made the announcement in a statement released through a public relations firm.

The statement revealed that he and his new wife had tied the knot in a civil ceremony last month.

The identity of his spouse remains undisclosed, but the 84-year-old bishop expressed his affection, stating “I have fallen in love with a wonderful woman who has helped and cared for me and who believes in me. She has been a loving and supportive companion on this journey.”

The revelation comes amidst a turbulent period for the Albany diocese which filed for bankruptcy protection in March.

The diocese comprises approximately 125 parishes and a Catholic population of over 300,000 across 14 counties.

Albany diocese faces a deluge of lawsuits stemming from a New York state law that enables adults who claim to have been sexually abused as children to pursue decades-old allegations against clergy members and others.

Many of these lawsuits have targeted Bishop Hubbard’s tenure, with numerous accusations of misconduct including several against the bishop himself.

Hubbard’s announcement “bizarre”

Reacting to the news, Jeff Anderson, a lawyer representing numerous victims of clergy abuse including those currently suing the Albany diocese, described Bishop Hubbard’s marriage announcement as “bizarre.”

Anderson went on to brand the retired bishop as a “mastermind of deceit, deception and concealment” for nearly four decades, covering up his own offences and those of other priests.

Bishop Edward B Scharfenberger, the current leader of the Albany diocese, released a statement expressing surprise at Bishop Hubbard’s announcement. He clarified that the church did not recognise the marriage.

According to Bishop Scharfenberger, Bishop Hubbard as a retired bishop of the Roman Catholic Church is prohibited from entering into marriage.

Bishop Hubbard, once a prominent religious and political figure in New York’s capital, earned a reputation as a liberal advocate for social justice causes. However, he has faced controversy for admitting to concealing allegations of abuse by priests during his tenure and following the church’s practice of sending accused clergymen to treatment rather than involving law enforcement.

Hubbard denied accusations

Throughout his career, Bishop Hubbard has consistently denied any personal abuse. In 2004, he faced accusations of past sexual relationships with multiple men. An external investigation he requested ultimately cleared him of sexual misconduct.

In a statement last year, Bishop Hubbard expressed his desire to continue his ministry during retirement.

However, a church policy prohibiting clergy members accused of sexual misconduct from publicly functioning as priests, even if the allegations are false, led him to seek permission from the Vatican to return to the lay state.

The Vatican denied his request in March, advising him to wait patiently and abstain from public ministry until the resolution of the seven civil lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct against him.


New York Times

Catholic News Agency

CathNews New Zealand

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