Wednesday, February 18, 2004

More on Albany

They've hired a Mary Jo White to investigate the claims against Bishop Hubbard. And the intrigue around the priest who wrote Cardinal O'Connor with claims against Hubbard only grows...

From Fox News:

The Albany County Coroner tells Fox 23 News autopsy results on Father John Minkler's body were inconclusive, and they are waiting for more tests to determine exactly how he died. But today we spoke with several people who say they spoke with Father Minkler just days before his death.

Stephen Brady is the director of Roman Catholic Faithful, an Illinois-based group which investigates clergy corruption allegations. Brady faxed us documents which he says are just some of his correspondence with Father John Minkler.

The signature on the cover letter appears similar to the one on the affidavit Minkler gave the Diocese on Friday. In the affadavit, Father Minkler said he never wrote a 7-page letter to Cardinal O'Connor citing improprieties by Bishop Howard Hubbard.

Brady claims Minkler sent him the letter in 2001 and made it clear he wanted to remain anonymous. “He made it clear he wanted to be very careful. He in no way wanted Bishop Hubbard to ever find out who was behind this, who was going to O'Connor behind his back, and who was looking into information in the Diocese regarding misconduct, especially homosexual activity,” said Brady. The editor of “The Wanderer,” a national Catholic weekly published in Minnesota, tells Fox 23 News Father Minkler has been informing him about problems within the Albany Diocese for 13 years. Paul Likouidis says he spoke with Father Minkler on Friday, just two days before Minkler was found dead in his Watervliet home.

He alleges Minkler told him he was called into the Diocese office and asked to sign this affidavit. “He went into an office and his longtime friend Father Ken Doyle had a document for him to sign and all Doyle said was sign this,” said Likoudis. “What he said to me was ‘Hubbard forced me to lie,’ and he felt very bad about that.”

Likoudis says he advised Father Minkler to call Father Joseph Wilson of St. Luke's Church in Queens for advice. Father Wilson says he too spoke to Minkler on Friday, and he was distraught. “I don't remember his exact phrase, but the connotation was he was trying to put out the fires caused by his mention. He did concede to me that he had written on the bishop and he had handed that report into Cardinal O'Connor,” said Father Wilson.

The Diocese issued a statement late today saying, “Father John Minkler denied four times to officials of the Albany Diocese that he had written a letter critical of Bishop Howard Hubbard." The statement goes on to say, “at no time did anyone associated with the Albany Diocese seek to pressure Father Minkler to meet with diocesan officials or to deny the letter or to sign a statement denying the letter. At no time was Father Minkler summoned to the Diocesan Pastoral Center. He came willingly..."