Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Resigning from the Catholic Church: Pope Francis was hired to stop the exodus

Fewer and Fewer
The catholic church is on the way out.  Attendance and number of churches has been declining for many years – faster since the pedophile priest cover-up was headline news in the Boston Globe in 2002.

In the U.S., of all the major denominations catholics have seen the largest decline in members.  Since the 1960s, four American-born Catholics have left the church for each person who has converted, according to a 2009 Pew study. From 2007 to 2014, 3 million people left the catholic church.  More than 1,000 parishes have closed since 1995, and the number of priests has fallen from about 49,000 to 40,000 during that same period. Some 3,400 Catholic parishes in the U.S. now lack a resident priest. “Catholicism is in decline across America,” says sociologist David Carlin. Numbers of catholics are also shrinking around the world in Europe and Australia.

There are some interesting statistics about the slippery slope the church finds itself sliding down.

If ex-Catholics were counted as their own religious group, they would be the third-largest denomination in the United States, after Catholics and Baptists, according to the National Catholic Reporter.

If it weren’t for the many Catholic immigrants, especially from Latin American, the American Catholic Church would be shrinking even faster (CNN 2012). However, according to a Pew Research Center report, many catholic Latin Americans have left the church to become protestant. This is why the Vatican chose Pope Francis (from Argentina) – to keep Latin Americans in the catholic church.

In a study in the Trenton, NJ diocese some of the top reasons for leaving were:

Ø  The sex abuse crisis -- the church’s inadequate response to clergy sex abuse, refusal of bishops to list pedophile priests on the diocese’s website and non-support of the effort to lift the statute of limitations for survivors seeking justice in the courts. Some of those responding said they had been victims of sexual abuse by church leadership.
Ø  Dissatisfaction with the priest – words used were:  “arrogant,” “distant,” “aloof” and “insensitive”
Ø  Uninspiring sermons on Sundays -- messages from the priest, did not relate or “speak to” them. And whenever the church wanted to raise money, they dropped the sermon and talked about donations.
Ø  The church hierarchy was too closely tied to conservative politics. People felt that the church should stay out of politics; it should certainly not threaten politicians.
Ø  The status of women -- the church is too involved in American politics relating to family planning, women’s rights, not allowing women to become ordained.

Some other statistics:

Ø  A 2014 survey in the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, found 4 major reasons for leaving: Not happy with Church doctrine, losing interest in the faith and Mass, church sex scandals or feeling unwelcome or judged by the Church.  
Ø  Only 30 percent of Americans who were raised Catholic are still practicing.
Ø  10 percent of all adults in America are ex-Catholics.
Ø  79 percent of those born or raised catholic and who are no longer catholic or have any religious affiliation of any kind, made their decision by age 23 – this means that there will be no one to fill the pews in the coming decades

Each of us has personal reasons for leaving the church.  On this blog I have talked often about the reasons that I left.  If you (the reader) are leaving the church or have left it, let me know why. It may be for some of the reasons above, or you may have other reasons to share with me and other readers.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Catholic Nuns and Priests murdered and tortured children: are you listening Pope Francis? Part V. Bishop Hubbard’s Damage Control. A in a five part weekly series on catholic church crimes

Members of the New York State Legislature who represent the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese presented Bishop Howard Hubbard with a Proclamation honoring his years of service. Bishop Hubbard opened session for the Assembly beginning with an opening prayer. Where is the separation of church and state?
Paying for his sins using our money

Bishop Hubbard, who led the 400,000-member Albany diocese from 1977 and retired in 2014, denied that he ever broke his vow of celibacy. So to have an “independent” opinion, the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese's Sexual Misconduct Review Board hired Mary Jo White. Ms. White, a law partner in the 500-member firm of Debevoise & Plimpton in Manhattan, was paid $770 an hour and that did not include her staff billing. How could she be independent if the people she investigated paid her salary?

After four months (at $770/hr.) White released a 200 page report. White’s investigation was only of Hubbard – it did not look at the many accounts of other Albany diocese priests who were sexually abusive or were homosexuals. No surprise: she concluded that there was no credible evidence the bishop was guilty of homosexual activity, or broke his vows of celibacy, or had sexual relations with anyone. The diocese got a $2.2 million bill for services rendered – and the Catholic faithful of the 14-county Albany diocese paid for it. But there is too much evidence that White’s report was a white wash and a cover-up. There are too many people who know the truth.

In addition to the Minkler case, White’s investigation was focused on claims by Andrew Zalay, who released his brother Thomas' 1978 suicide notes, one of which refers to a relationship with "Howard" and calls him the bishop. Thomas Zalay died after setting himself ablaze in his parents' home. White also discredited this account.  But what about people who actually knew Minkler? – like Bob Linde:

“The case speaks for itself. Hubbard took three million out of Catholic funds, and hired Former U.S. Attorney White (A Close Friend) to show that he was not a pervert. We know he is, and together with Father Nolan (who worked for Hubbard) is responsible for the death of Father John Minkler for trying to expose Hubbard and his cronies.

I knew Father John Minkler and talked with him on regular basis. I also know his sister Patty and am in touch with her from time to time. He was the Chaplin at the VA Hospital in Albany, sent there to be away from Hubbard.  John Minkler helped me get my partial pension from the Military – he helped me in many ways and we talked often. He was a good man, and loved life too much to commit suicide and I don’t believe that he did. I talked to him a couple days before and he was going to call me again. He did want to expose Hubbard as homosexual. He was under a lot of pressure from exposing the sexual activities involving Hubbard and his priest. A few days later he was dead from an overdose.  Michelle Bolton was an editor at Albany Times Union, and lost her job over this story. She told me that she would, but ran it anyway.”

Also said Bob, “Minkler and others knew that there was a gay bar in Utica NY where Hubbard and other clergy met quite often. Lesbian nuns also participated. Did you know that Hubbard is on the sex offenders list on the website?”

From the website:

“On 2/15/2004, Minkler was found dead at his home in Watervliet NY, three days after being identified as the author of a 1995 letter to Cardinal John O’Connor alleging doctrinal violations and sexual misconduct by Albany bishop Howard Hubbard, and one day after diocesan officials announced that Minkler had met with them and stated that he was not the author of the letter. The day after Minkler’s death, Stephen Brady of the organization Roman Catholic Faithful released to reporters a set of handwritten notes by Minkler dated 1/9/2001. He said Minkler had given him the notes three years earlier, along with a copy of the 1995 letter, which, Brady said, Minkler had written. Minkler's 2001 notes named more than a dozen Albany priests allegedly guilty of sexual misconduct, including Rev. Gary Mercure, who at that time was an active pastor but who was convicted in 2011 of raping two boys in the 1980s. In June 2004, former US attorney Mary Jo White released a report that Hubbard commissioned in February. White’s report found Hubbard innocent of the allegations in Minkler’s 1995 letter and 2001 notes but did not mention the allegations against Mercure and others.”

Justice is not served here

Why is it so difficult to get justice for children murdered and abused by priests and nuns in New York State?  Could it be that high political figures in the state are very friendly with the catholic church?  Governor Andrew Cuomo was criticized in 2011 by a consultant to the Vatican’s highest court, who said that the governor should be denied communion because he lives with his girlfriend with no sacrament of marriage.

Hubbard, leader of the Albany diocese and a member of the executive committee of the New York State Catholic Conference, made his comments at a news conference after meeting with Cuomo at the Executive Mansion to discuss the state budget, same-sex marriage and other issues. Question: Why does Hubbard get to discuss these issues with a politician when there is supposed to be separation of church and state? Hubbard said, “And when it comes to judging worthiness for communion, we do not comment on either public figures or private figures. That’s something between the communicant and his pastor personally. It’s not something we comment on.”  Although bishops in other states want to deny communion to elected officials who disagree with church teachings Hubbard said that NY bishops are not like them. 

Hubbard appeared with Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, leader of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York (known for his cover-ups of pedophile priests), and several other high-ranking bishops who had lunch with Mr. Cuomo at the Executive Mansion. A spokesman for Mr. Cuomo said: “The governor enjoyed his lunch meeting with Archbishop Dolan and the bishops from the Catholic Conference. He looks forward to continuing to work closely with them during his administration.” (my emphasis) So the bishops socialize with Cuomo and other politicians in the Executive Mansion. The State of New York belongs to the catholic church.  As long as there is no separation of church and state where is the equal opportunity for Jews and Muslims and other Christian denominations to add their beliefs? Or is it a closed club?  

Our job, in addition to stopping the rapists and murderers and those who cover up for them in the catholic church is to get rid of these politicians who support them.  We can vote them out of office.  We can stop giving our money to the catholic church who views us as cash cows to pay their lawyers to keep them out of jail.  Let’s do this now – while people like Bob, Bill, Papay, me and others around the world who know and remember their crimes and are fighting to stop these heartless, cold-blooded criminals who murder children and hide behind God. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Send a Survivor of Catholic Priest and Nun Abuse to the SNAP Conference

Survivors at SNAP Annual Conference

Those of us who have been sexually abused by predators hiding behind religious smokescreens often feel alone. The 2015 SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) conference puts an end to that isolation.  It is a place where survivors and their families and advocates meet to share our experiences, learn from each other or in workshops and lectures and are united in our efforts to stop the abuse.

SNAP of Boston/Worcester, MA would like to send its survivor members to the conference and the local Director is asking every source of potential funding for travel, meals and discounted lodging for help. If you would like to help send a survivor to the conference please click on this facebook link for more information:

Please help a sexual abuse survivor find the pathway to heal.  If you would like to attend the conference we welcome you.

“It is my hope that every survivor who desires to attend will receive assistance to do so.” … Dave O’Regan

Thank you for caring.

Conference Information

Friday, May 1, 2015

Catholic Nuns and Priests murdered and tortured children: are you listening Pope Francis? Part IV. No Justice in New York. A five part weekly series on catholic church crimes

Bishop Howard Hubbard, Albany, NY Diocese
Why do investigations of murdered children go nowhere in New York? Answer: Bishops and District Attorneys

We have evidence, witnesses, and articles in the press – yet there is no justice for Gilbert, for me and my brother Frankie, for all the other children tortured and murdered. Why?  Because catholic church hierarchy – like bishop Howard Hubbard -- ignore, refuse to cooperate, cover up for priests that rape children and are themselves suspects in cases of child abuse, homosexuality and abuse of power.

Hubbard uses church funds to avoid homosexual label

There were longstanding rumors, protests and accusations of sexual misconduct and homosexual relationships between Bishop Hubbard and minors for many years -- but he was not removed from office – only his reputation suffered. Then in 2004, so-called “independent investigators” paid for by the Albany Diocese (by Hubbard) cleared Hubbard of allegations of sexual misconduct. What did Hubbard do?  The reporter who told the story, Michelle Bolton at the Albany Times Union lost her job -- she told Bob that she would, but she ran it anyway.

On Feb. 15, 2004, 57 year old Rev. John Minkler's body was found by his sister on the kitchen floor of his Watervliet apartment, lying face down on a blanket. An unidentified bottle of prescription drugs was found by Minkler's side, along with a suicide note. Albany County Coroner Herman Thomas would not say what the autopsy reports specifically showed; saying only that it was a suicide.

Three days before his death, Minkler was identified in a television news report as the author of a 1995 letter to then New York Archbishop John O'Connor detailing "a ring of homosexual Albany priests" including Bishop Howard Hubbard’s alleged long-term homosexual relationships with two younger priests.

Minkler died two days after he signed a statement for the Albany Diocese saying he was not the author of the letter. The letter also included a description of many other local priests said to have had homosexual relations with adults and children.

The day after Minkler's death Hubbard said that Minkler came of his own free will – “… 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…and he did not know how his name got associated with the letter."

Stephen Brady, head of the Illinois-based Roman Catholic Faithful, contradicted Hubbard and said Minkler had been working with his lay group for at least three years in order to document homosexual misconduct and abuse among Albany priests, including Hubbard. Brady told Albany’s Times-Union that the priest left him a voice mail message asking for advice the day before his death.

Brady said that Minkler authored the 1995 letter and sent him a copy of it in 2001.
Paul Likoudis, news editor for The Wanderer, said Minkler called him shortly after signing the affidavit and said that contrary to Hubbard’s claim, he was summoned to sign it. Likoudis said Minkler explained that the affidavit was already made out and he was told to sign it.

In an hour long phone conversation with Fr. Joseph F. Wilson of the Diocese of Brooklyn that same evening Minkler told him: "the bishop made me lie." Wilson said Minkler wanted advice on how to smooth things over with his bishop and told him he had talked with at least one other priest and a lay canon lawyer for more advice that same evening. "Not exactly the actions of a man who’s planning to commit suicide," said Fr. Wilson.

Likoudis also said that Minkler, was a former secretary to Cardinal O’Connor and was asked by him to prepare a report of clerical corruption in the Albany diocese because O’Connor was trying to remove Hubbard. Likoudis told a crowd of 500 Roman Catholic Faithful a week after Minkler’s death that for 13 years Minkler had been a trusted source of inside information in the Diocese of Albany.

Minkler wasn’t the first priest associated with Roman Catholic Faithful to die under mysterious circumstances. In 1998 Fr. Alfred Kunz, an accomplished canon lawyer helping expose homosexual corruption in the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois was murdered at his rural Wisconsin parish. His throat was slit by a razor blade, and he bled to death before his body was discovered the next morning. Although the subject of one of the most extensive FBI investigations in Wisconsin history, the murder of Fr. Kunz remains a mystery. Less than two years after his death 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, like Hubbard, persistently denied that charge and others for years.

Regarding Minkler’s death, "We don't accept the findings of the coroner," said Phillip Kiernan, who headed the Coalition of Concerned Catholics of the Albany Diocese, a conservative group that has taken Hubbard to task for the ills of his diocese. "I'm a traditional Catholic, but this has a smell to it," Kiernan said. "Father Minkler had heart and stomach ailments. But now I'm beginning to wonder, because this looks like a cover-up."

It did look suspicious: the coroner confirmed the suicide by telephone from his home after he was called by a reporter but made no official statement on the case. The
Albany County District Attorney Paul Clyne was also called at home but said he was not aware of the autopsy results. Why didn’t the coroner tell the district attorney? Why did the toxicology results take two months after Minkler’s death?

Fr. Wilson who had spoken to Minkler after signing the "disclaimer" said he was interviewed by two private investigators working for Mary Jo White, the lawyer hired to investigate Howard Hubbard (see below). They told Wilson, "Well, we've interviewed a number of people who spoke to Father Minkler from Friday afternoon to Saturday night, and they all say what you're telling us: he was in good spirits, none of them were concerned for his state of mind. So between, say, 9:30 PM Saturday and early Sunday morning, something happened to change things."       

Victims’ rights advocates have criticized Bishop Hubbard for his opposition to the U.S. bishops "zero tolerance" policy adopted by the national conference in 2002. That policy states that any priest who has had sexual contact with a child—even if only once—be removed from ministry immediately and permanently. Bishop Hubbard defended his stance in the name of "compassion and forgiveness" for first time offenders. So is it his policy to allow one child to be raped for each priest rapist?

Many Catholics in the Diocese of Albany and beyond have also been critical of Bishop Hubbard for further reasons, not the least of which is promotion of a homosexualist agenda within the Catholic Church. For example, in 1991 the bishop defended his practice of ordaining known homosexual priests, telling the Times Union: "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. [What about murders or child rapists?]  Indeed, I think we have a responsibility to reach out to them with sensitivity and compassion" (Feb. 22, 1991).

How did bishop Hubbard, with a reputation for defying church policy, advocating for homosexuals in the church and ignoring the pleas of families with tortured and murdered children get to keep his position until 2014 when he retired?  He did it with damage control and friends in high places. We will see how high his influence went in Part V of this series next week.