The Pastoral Approach -- or, No Blood No Foul

By Diogenes (articles ) | Aug 28, 2004

Here's one of the those "looking-glass war" stories which -- if you have the patience to sort through the non-denials, no-comments, half-answers, and oblique concessions -- gives a bright but narrow glimpse into the workings of Howard Hubbard's Albany Diocese.

In a nutshell: erratic attorney John Aretakis named Albany priest Carl Urban as a homosexual predator. Urban strongly denied the charges. Retired police detective Lincoln Grimm has come forward to claim that Fr. Urban was notorious to the police as a client of male prostitutes, and that in fact Urban had sexually propositioned him 16 years ago in the rough trade district of Schenectady. Grimm says he didn't arrest Urban at the time but contacted Bishop Hubbard to inform him of what had happened. Now the head-fakes begin:

Diocese spokesperson Kenneth Goldfarb would not confirm or deny the incident occurred or comment on whether Urban had been sent away for treatment. However, he did say it should be noted that none of the allegations made against Urban by Grimm were considered illegal or are mentioned in a recent complaint the pastor filed with the Committee on Professional Standards against Aretakis.

"We're not going to talk about anything of that nature involving a priest (or any employee of the diocese)," said Goldfarb. "When a concern of this nature is brought to the diocese, it is viewed seriously and dealt with appropriately. "We have a policy that deals with clergy sex abuse of minors, and that is handled differently. This is not that kind of case," he added.

No minors were involved; no charges were filed; the situation -- if there was a situation -- was dealt with appropriately (you have the word of an official of a Catholic diocese for it). To suggest that Father Urban would be unsuited to preach, expound, and defend the faith in its fullness betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of authentically renewed ministry in today's Church. As Goldfarb says -- quoting, I think, Presbyterorum Ordinis -- "This is not that kind of case."

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  • Posted by: Fr. William - Sep. 01, 2004 11:47 AM ET USA

    How do Bishop Hubbard and Father Urban justify their continuing presence in the diocese? Can't they be forced to retire? Can't they be removed from their posts? Can't they be put in solitary confinement and live as hermits in prayer for the rest of their lives, doing penance for the sins and crimes they've committed?

  • Posted by: - Sep. 01, 2004 8:06 AM ET USA

    That the Vatican would face a fire-storm if it tried to clean this up doesn't mean it is absolved of trying. We're in this situation because the Vatican has done nothing for so many years. And who's to say that none of the male prostitutes this guy frequented were minors? They are often run-aways and underage..which appeals to the kind of slime who would hire them for sex.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 30, 2004 7:59 PM ET USA

    I have come to think that the Vatican doesn't go anything about this because it can't. If anyone was sent to the U.S. as they were sent to Austrian, there would be a large protest and probably outright rebellion. I think that some bishops would probably refuse to clean-up or close seminaries. They Vatican probably doesn't do anything to avoid the refusal and rebellion that would come if it tried.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 29, 2004 1:58 PM ET USA

    And so the game continues to be played, on and on and on. Must we wait for a few nuclear missiles from Red China and/or the Second Coming, to see the end of that game ? Of course, the Vatican could just wake up and appoint a few Savonarola types to major metropolitan sees in the USA. Don't hold your breath.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Aug. 29, 2004 9:26 AM ET USA

    Continued protection of the homosexual "lifestyle" within the priesthood...?