Tuesday, February 17, 2004

The Continuing Scandal Involving the Catholic Church & Homosexuality

Also from the Independent:
A priest was found dead two days after meeting a Roman Catholic bishop over a letter alleging the bishop was part of "a ring of homosexual priests".

The Rev John Minkler, 57, was found dead on Sunday in his home in Watervliet, New York state. Police there did not say how or when he died.

The Bishop of Albany, Howard Hubbard, said on Monday: "He was very disturbed that his name was associated with this letter, and he wanted to assure me he was not its author."

The letter was written in 1995 but surfaced last week after a press conference with a lawyer who has represented alleged victims of sexual abuse by priests. The Albany diocese said Mr Minkler was identified as the author in a TV news report. It could find no letter in its files.

Last week Andrew Zalay claimed that Bishop Hubbard had abused his brother Thomas 30 years ago. Thomas committed suicide in 1978. Bishop Hubbard says he has never broken his vow of celibacy, and he has denied ever sexually abusing anyone. He says he has handled all claims of abuse seriously and dismissed abusive priests.
It now appears that Minkler committed suicide. Why?

Here's another news account of this death that makes me wonder a bit:
On Friday, the church announced that Minkler had disavowed authorship of the letter and had said he had never contacted the archdiocese. On Monday, they released Minkler's signed statement to that effect.

But the head of Roman Catholic Faithful, a Chicago-based group of conservative Catholics, disputed that account. Stephen Brady said Minkler had been working with him for three years to uncover homosexual activity in the Albany Diocese.

"Reverend Minkler was scared to death that the bishop would find out," said Brady, president of the group that opposes any weakening of church positions against homosexuality, birth control and abortion.

"He called me Saturday and left a message on my voice mail, saying, 'I need your help with Hubbard.' I was not able to get back with Father Minkler," Brady said.

Brady said Minkler wrote the letter, which was signed only as "Henry."

Copies of the letter were made public last week by Albany-area attorney John Aretakis.

Aretakis, who has represented dozens of victims of clergy sexual abuse and has accused the diocese of mistreating victims, ignited the controversy surrounding Hubbard at a Feb. 4 news conference at which he produced a typed, unsigned suicide note from a former mental patient who indicated a sexual relationship with Hubbard. He also arranged the Feb. 5 news conference at which Hubbard was accused of paying a teenage runaway for sex in the 1970s.
Here's a bit more from Newsday about the 1995 letter that seems to have led to at least one death (cause undetermined):
Albany - A priest was found dead Sunday, two days after meeting with Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard over a 1995 letter alleging the bishop was part of "a ring of homosexual Albany priests."
The New York Post coverage is also disturbing. Although quoting an unnamed police official that there were indications that was suicide:
"We've been apprised of Rev. Minkler's death and we're awaiting the results of the autopsy," said Albany District Attorney Paul Clyne.

WRGB also quoted Clyne as saying that Minkler's death came "under strange circumstances that bear watching."
This article also seems to imply that this was more than an allegation against Bishop Hubbard:
The bishop said he was "stunned" by Minkler's death, and said the priest assured him as recently as Friday that he was not the source of criticism of Hubbard's handling of a series of child-abuse cases involving Albany priests.
Of course, conspiracies of silence involving powerful gay men and murder aren't new. See this coverage in the Bakersfield Californian, provoked by the murder of Assistant District Attorney Stephen M. Tauzer. The abstract gives you something of where this is going:
Powerful gay men. Vulnerable teen-age boys. Murder. For years, some prominent local men who led secret lives were rumored to be protected. Whispers surrounding another important man's death prompt the question: Is there really a conspiracy?

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