Some Catholics prayed for their church, but spoke out against their leader, Bishop Howard Hubbard. He was in Troy to receive the Humanitarian of the Year award presented by the Sunnyside Center -- an agency focused on helping children in need.
Alleged clergy sex abuse victim Edmund Zampier said, "I feel very offended that today he is getting this award for helping young people. I was a young person. I was hurt. I was damaged. Here I am at age 62, still trying to get this matter settled."
Alleged victims of clergy sex abuse and members of the Coalition of Concerned Catholics carried their signs and voiced their concerns. They said he hasn't done enough to help victims of clergy sex abuse.
Philip Kiernan of the Coalition of Concerned Catholics said, "We don't think this is an appropriate or sensitive award, either to be made or to be accepted because the Sunnyside Center is funded by Catholic Charities. So in effect, the bishop is either giving himself an award here today or paying for one. We don't want the public to be deceived by that."
But inside the banquet hall, those outcries were silenced. Dozens gathered to praise the bishop they called compassionate and giving. After receiving his award, Bishop Hubbard did talk about the recent controversy surrounding the diocese and gave a response to the people outside rallying against him.
He said, "I understand the hurt and pain that they've experienced. As bishop of the diocese, I symbolize the trauma that they've endured, and I can understand the pain and outrage. I just hope they can join with me in the efforts that we're making to try to care for children and to ensure that the scandal never occurs."
While Bishop Hubbard stood strong, many Catholics were outraged by the display outdoors.
Sister Claudette Harris of the Sunnyside Center said, "It is hurtful, and I've spent many restless, sleepless nights since they've attacked us talking about these things because the bishop is a wonderful person, and no one is going to change my mind."
Sister Maureen Joyce of Catholic Charities added, "He deserves the humanitarian award every weekend as far as we're concerned. His whole history, over 40 years, has been very concerned about children, especially children who are poor and neglected."
Bishop Hubbard's commitment to helping children, the Sunnyside board members said, is why Hubbard was honored.