“The truth is often hard to bear”


ALBANY — Edward B. Scharfenberger, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, released a statement Tuesday in response to the release last week of former Bishop Howard J. Hubbard’s pretrial deposition in which he admitted that the diocese had systematically covered cases of child sexual abuse.

“I know I’m not the only one having to deal with the backlash or the worry of a new wave of suffering for survivors and their families,” Scharfenberger wrote in a missive posted on The Evangelist’s website. . “Although the truth is often hard to bear, it can help us remember that families where there has been abuse and betrayal cannot heal if the truth remains hidden. Families, like individuals, are ‘so sick than their secrets'”.

Hubbard testified under oath last year that he and the diocese covered up incidents of child sexual abuse and failed to alert law enforcement when they discovered them, saying their actions were aimed at party to avoid scandal and preserve “respect for the priesthood”.

Hubbard’s testimony, first published by the Times Union on Friday, took place last April when he was questioned for four days by lawyers representing dozens of individuals who filed complaints under the law. on child victims of the state, alleging that they had been sexually abused by priests or others. associated with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany.

During the deposition, Hubbard was asked about his handling of multiple abuse complaints, including why he did not call the police when David Bentley, a former priest, admitted to sexually abusing a child.

“Because I wasn’t a commissioned reporter,” Hubbard testified. “I don’t think the law then or even now requires me to do it. Would I do it now? Yes. But did I do it then? No.”

The former bishop also confirmed that many documents documenting the sexual abuse allegations were kept in secret files that only he and other senior church officials could access. He said the “sealed” files included allegations of abuse as well as files on priests accused of other forms of wrongdoing, such as financial misconduct or alcohol abuse.

Scharfenberger, a Brooklyn native, was named the 10th bishop of the Diocese of Albany in 2014 after the retirement of Hubbard, who was later accused of both child sexual abuse and covering up similar misconduct from other priests. Hubbard, who became bishop of the Diocese of Albany in 1977, has denied the sexual abuse allegations against him.

Scharfenberger also addressed the effect that revelations from Hubbard’s testimony can have on individuals as well as the diocese as a whole.

“Yes, it will hurt as we move forward. We all suffer to see the impact on our church and on our people, on survivors and families, on the relationships we can have with Bishop Hubbard,” he said. -he declares. “We will need time to pray and mourn. Don’t take it on alone. … All Catholics are upset. as families heal.”

Scharfenberger, who in 2019 was named apostolic administrator of the scandal-ridden Diocese of Buffalo following the official resignation of Bishop Richard J. Malone, has focused much of his energy in Albany on raising awareness for victims of child sexual abuse.

“We have a deep responsibility to survivors of abuse in the church – and to their families and friends who suffer with them,” Scharfenberger wrote in The Evangelist. “We must not shy away from acknowledging that their pain is multiplied by this news, even as we acknowledge the real and historic failures brought to light.”

Hubbard’s deposition confirmed efforts by the former bishop and the diocese to cover up incidents of sexual abuse when Hubbard was bishop of the 14-county district from 1977 to 2014.

Hubbard said that between 1977 and 2002 he received reports of 11 priests accused of sexually abusing children. Lawyers for alleged victims say he confronted priests accused of child sex abuse; many were sent for treatment but were allowed to resume ministry without the former bishop warning parishioners of their dangerous inclinations.

Some of them continued to rape or sexually abuse children when they returned to the ministry.

Hubbard, 83, had fought the public release of his own deposition. During a hearing on the matter in December, Terence P. O’Connor, Hubbard’s attorney, claimed the bishop’s deposition should be kept confidential and “under seal” to prevent cases from being “disputed in the press and (leading to) poisoning”. of the panel of jurors.”

Lawyers for many of the approximately 300 alleged victims who filed lawsuits against the diocese or individual priests had cited Hubbard’s public statements to the Times Union last year as reason to lift the protective order and dismiss the motion. from Hubbard’s attorney who was seeking to obtain the sealed deposit.


Comments are closed.