VATICAN. A retired bishop from Albany, New York, who admitted to protecting for predatory clergymen and himself was accused of sexual harassment, has requested Pope Francis to take away his priesthood.
Bishop Emeritus Howard Hubbard, 84, introduced the choice in an announcement on Friday, the day designated by the United Nations as World Day to Forestall and Heal Kids from Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Abuse.
Hubbard stated he needed to turn out to be a layman or return to the state of a layman as a result of he may not function a priest given U.S. church coverage banning clergymen accused of ministering. If accepted, laicization would launch Hubbard from his obligations of celibacy.
Asking the pope for voluntary laicism is uncommon, particularly for a bishop and particularly for a priest who denies allegations of abuse in opposition to him. It is not uncommon for clergymen to ask to be laicized if the proof of their abuse is simple or in the event that they wish to go away the priesthood so as to get married. The Vatican can forcibly laize or defrock clergymen as punishment for crimes corresponding to sexual abuse by clergy.
Hubbard admitted that the cover-up of allegations of kid sexual abuse by clergymen was partly accomplished to keep away from scandal and defend the diocese’s popularity. He did so in one in all dozens of lawsuits by a whole lot of people that have sued the Diocese of Albany over sexual abuse they are saying they have been subjected to as youngsters, typically a long time in the past.
However he vehemently denied accusations that he himself was abusing minors. In his Friday assertion, Hubbard reiterated this declare of innocence.
“I hope and pray to reside lengthy sufficient that my identify is cleared as soon as and for all,” he stated.
Hubbard administered a diocese within the New York metropolitan space from 1977 to 2014.
Different US bishops have requested Francis to resign as a result of he mistreated predatory clergymen, however to not take away him from the priesthood totally. Francis forcibly defrocked former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick in 2019 after a church investigation discovered he sexually abused adults and youngsters.
Advocates for survivors of the abuse hailed Hubbard’s request to depart the priesthood totally because the fruits of victims’ efforts to carry the Catholic hierarchy accountable for the abuse and cover-up. Whereas the American church has had a “one strike and also you’re out” coverage for 20 years, it is exempting bishops from sanctions.
It wasn’t till 2019 that the Vatican adopted inside guidelines for investigating accused bishops, however these instances have been labeled and not using a full public account of who was investigated or sanctioned, and gave particular person dioceses or bishops’ conferences the chance to make the knowledge public.
“We consider Hubbard’s elimination will not be solely justified, however needed. It indicators to survivors that their voices are being heard,” legal professional Cynthia LaFave stated in an announcement launched by the legislation workplace of Jeffrey Anderson, who has represented a whole lot of survivors of abuse in the US.