Bucky's Bail -- or, I Love Being Me

By Diogenes (articles ) | May 22, 2006

Bucky G, a street hustler, pimp and drug dealer, shot a rival dealer on Christmas Eve 1972. His family called me at my mother's home in Troy, where she lay dying of cancer. They wanted me to arrange for Bucky's bail.

Albany's Bishop Howard Hubbard offers "Ten Good Reasons to Become a Priest":

1. Take me, for instance.
2. Then there's the model of myself.
4. A very precious example is that of my own life.
3. Let's not forget me.
5. Hubbard's the name.
6. Am I just too darling for words, or what?
7. Poor you.
8. That's Howard J. Hubbard.
9. Perhaps my personal story can help.
10. Thank you. I'd love to sing a song.

Take a slow second read through Hubbard's auto-hagiography and ask yourself if any of the "reasons" he propounds for becoming a priest could not be achieved equally well by a layman. OK, if you squeeze the examples hard enough you find a passing mention of sacramental ministry, but only as an occasion for that encounter with Howard Hubbard which Howard Hubbard feels is the really important point. No doubt he loves being a priest, but his vocation message communicates the idea that priesthood's chief merit lies in providing a hall of mirrors for a lifetime of self-congratulatory strutting.

Particularly dismaying is Hubbard's account of the spiritual direction (sic) and counseling offered to "Mary Ann," whom he empowered to leave her convent, and her vows, "not with guilt or regrets, but with inner peace and serenity." We're in the middle of a religious vocation plug, remember: life-long commitments and all that. Might there be extraordinary circumstances that rendered Mary Ann's vows non-binding? Yep. Does he mention their existence? Nope. (Why should he? He helped her find inner peace...)

Put bluntly, Hubbard doesn't know why he's a priest. In this he is typical of his generation. The best he can say about the priesthood, in which he displays no interest, is that it provides opportunities for those endeavors in which he can find some satisfaction. In one respect at least we can be grateful for Hubbard's Decem Rationes: he's provided an irreducibly succinct compendium of the kind of ecclesial thinking that brought us where we are today.

By the way, if the aforementioned "Bucky G" isn't currently employed as the diocesan director of vocations and seminary formation, he definitely deserves to be.

(blogger credit to the Curmudgeon)

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  • Posted by: - May. 23, 2006 11:30 PM ET USA

    He bears a suspicious resemblance to Frank Gorshin when he played the Riddler in the 1960's Batman tv show. http://www.1966batfan.com/Riddler.htm

  • Posted by: rpp - May. 23, 2006 4:09 PM ET USA

    Here are some word counts: "Lord" 0 "God" 7 "Jesus" 2 "Christ" 2 "Mary" (Mother of God) 0 Rosary 0 "sacrament" 1 "Pray"/"Praying"/"Prayers" 1 "Me" 6 "I" 35

  • Posted by: - May. 23, 2006 4:05 PM ET USA

    All I can say is that ... at least his hands look clean and he has a decent haircut.

  • Posted by: - May. 23, 2006 2:34 PM ET USA

    "I never asked him what he was in for...I assumed it was something major like murder." Yup. Great care for potential mortal sin there.

  • Posted by: - May. 23, 2006 12:43 PM ET USA

    Sooo, if he has received his reward on earth (good and fuzzy feelings), what's left for him in heaven?

  • Posted by: - May. 23, 2006 8:39 AM ET USA

    It does seem as if the reasons most often given for becoming a priest are all about "priests" rather than about Christ as I have heard them and this is the first I have heard of this list.

  • Posted by: - May. 23, 2006 1:09 AM ET USA

    Thank goodness, with good works such as these, the self-abnegation they evince, the essential humanity they display, HH would never have to spend $2.4 million of the faithful's money to vindicate his reputation. Indeed, with deeds such as he outlines, evidently never before trumpeted as a hypocrite might do, his reputation -- that earthly, fleeting thing with feathers -- would never matter to such a man. Indeed.

  • Posted by: Fr. Walter - May. 22, 2006 3:52 PM ET USA

    I too read the good Bishop's "ten reasons" with some dismay; I thought Jesus Christ would have figured a little more prominently in his paean to self. The Lord did get a brief nod in the final paragraphs. Sadly, I am sure the usual "pastoral center" bureaucrats thought it was simply marvelous. He's no Lacordaire, "To have a heart of fire for charity and a heart of bronze for chastity... This life is yours, O Priest of Jesus Christ!" No, Bishop Hubbard's priesthood is more focussed on him.

  • Posted by: - May. 22, 2006 9:29 AM ET USA

    Maybe there were no openings in the School of Social Work or in Jungian Psychology? Or he just didn't have enough Unitarian friends to steer him in a more appropriate direction?