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Albany priest found dead

A priest whose name was linked with a letter accusing Bishop Howard Hubbard of homosexual activity was found dead in his Watervliet home this weekend.

Watervliet police said the Rev. John Minkler was found on the kitchen floor of his home by his sister on Sunday afternoon. Police Chief Jerry Beston there were no signs of trauma to the victim or forced entry. The chief said a note was found at the home, but he provided no details about it and would not say whether or not the death was self-inflicted. An autopsy is being conducted today.

Last week, Hubbard denied the truth of a letter released purportedly written by Minkler, which accused the bishop of homosexual relationships with two other priests. The church later announced that Minkler denied he wrote the letter, and today released a statement to that effect signed by Minkler.

The AP story

He was very disturbed that his name was associated with this letter and he wanted to assure me that he was not its author,” Hubbard said Monday.

“He was the one who requested the meeting,” Hubbard said in an interview. “He said `I just wanted to look you in the eye so you could see me tell you face-to-face, man-to-man, that I was not the author of the letter.”‘

“What was said in that letter was not true,” Hubbard said after he was interviewed by WROW-AM in Albany.

Minkler was ordained in 1972 and had been chaplain of the Stratton Veterans Administration Hospital in Albany for about 20 years.

“This is a tragedy no matter what the circumstances,” Hubbard said. “A priest has died and I have great sympathy for his family and they will be very much in my prayers.”

A copy of the 1995 letter to the archdiocese in New York City surfaced following a press conference last week called by a lawyer who has represented several alleged victims of sexual abuse by priests. The Albany Diocese in a statement issued Monday said Minkler was identified as the letter’s author in a television news report.

“The purported letter” to the late Cardinal John O’Connor was denied by Minkler in a written statement and no such letter was found in the files of the archdiocese, according to the Albany Diocese statement.

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On Friday, the church announced that Minkler had disavowed authorship of the letter and had said he had never contacted the archdiocese. On Monday, they released Minkler’s signed statement to that effect.

But the head of Roman Catholic Faithful, a Chicago-based group of conservative Catholics, disputed that account. Stephen Brady said Minkler had been working with him for three years to uncover homosexual activity in the Albany Diocese.

“Reverend Minkler was scared to death that the bishop would find out,” said Brady, president of the group that opposes any weakening of church positions against homosexuality, birth control and abortion.

“He called me Saturday and left a message on my voice mail, saying, ‘I need your help with Hubbard.’ I was not able to get back with Father Minkler,” Brady said.

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