Former Bishop Howard Hubbard, 84, gets married
Former Bishop Howard Hubbard has gotten married.
NewsChannel 13’s Mark Mulholland has learned that Hubbard married a Capital Region woman last month in a civil ceremony.
Hubbard, who turns 85 in October, applied to the Vatican last year to return to the lay state and be relieved of his priestly obligations.
The Vatican denied his request and encouraged him to wait until civil lawsuits related to alleged sexual abuse against him had been resolved.
Hubbard, who suffered a stroke last year, said he could be in his 90s before those cases are adjudicated.
In a statement on Tuesday, Hubbard – who was bishop for 46 years – said, “I have fallen in love with a wonderful woman who has helped and cared for me and who believes in me. She has been a loving and supportive companion on this journey. After much prayerful reflection, we decided to marry and did so in July in a civil ceremony.”
It’s not clear what happens now to the former bishop as it relates to his Catholic faith. It’s possible the church could excommunicate him as priests are not currently allowed to marry.
Hubbard’s statement said he continues to pray for four things: (1) That survivors of clergy sexual abuse and their families will find peace, healing and reconciliation; (2) That he will have the opportunity to prove his innocence to the allegations before a court of law, (3) That with whatever time God continues to grant him on this Earth, his marriage will be one of fidelity, love and service, and (4) that the Vatican will eventually grant him laicization and recognize his marriage.
Hubbard thanked supporters and the people of the diocese.
“I want to express my profound gratitude to my friends and colleagues and the people of our diocese for the love, care and concern you have shown me in my nearly 60 years of priestly service, 46 as a bishop, and for the wonderful fraternal bond I have enjoyed with my brother bishops and priests, deacons and the religious women and men who have served in our diocese, the laity and the interfaith and civic leaders with whom I was privileged to serve. As I enter this new phase of my life as a retired private person, I humbly ask that the news media and others respect our privacy as a couple. My life on the public stage has come to an end.”
Meantime, current Bishop Edward Scharfenberger said the church won’t recognize the marriage.
“The Church does not acknowledge his marriage as valid,” said Sharfenberger, in a statement. “He remains a retired Bishop of the Roman Catholic Church, and therefore cannot enter into marriage.”