ALBANY, New York, July 28, 2011 ( – The bishop of Albany has agreed to celebrate Mass for a conference held by a dissident Catholic gay rights group in the city this fall.

Thomas Peters of Catholic Vote reported Wednesday that Bishop Howard Hubbard was slated to say a Saturday vigil Mass for a September conference by the Catholic Association for Lesbian & Gay Ministry (CALGM).

The conference, “Setting the Table for LGBT People in a Diverse Church,” includes gay rights speakers such as Rev. Bob Pierson, OSB and United Church of Christ priestess Rev. Vicki Wunsch.

Peters points out that Archbishop John Nienstedt of Saint Paul/Minneapolis had barred CALGM from meeting within his diocese.

“Bishop Hubbard turns 75 in a little over two years, but he seems intent on continuing to inflict pastoral damage on his diocese until he retires,” wrote Peters.

CALGM, formerly known as the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries (NACDLGM), has earned a reputation for pushing acceptance of homosexuality as an identity and opposing Catholic ministry to help individuals overcome homosexual attractions.

One visible clash between the group and Catholic teaching took place in 2008, when the group invited then-coadjutor Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento to speak at their national conference – an invitation that the bishop accepted.

To organizers’ surprise, however, Soto took the opportunity to point out that any sexual activity outside marriage between a man and a woman is sinful.

“Sexual relations between people of the same sex can be alluring for homosexuals but it deviates from the true meaning of the act and distracts them from the true nature of love to which God has called us all. For this reason, it is sinful,” he said.

Following the speech, which met with mostly silence from the audience, a board member of the association told the crowd, “on behalf of the board, I apologize. We had no idea Bishop Soto was going to say what he said.”