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Joseph Hubert Hart Edit Profile

bishop , Catholic priest

Joseph Hubert Hart is an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church.

Background

Hart, Joseph Hubert was born on September 26, 1931 in Kansas City, Missouri, United States.

Education

He attended St. Peter's Grade School (1936–1944) and Bishop Hogan High School (1944–1948) before studying at Rockhurst College and St. Meinrad Seminary.

Career

He served as Bishop of Cheyenne from 1978 to 2001. Hart was ordained a priest by Bishop John Cody on May 1, 1956. He then served as assistant pastor at Guardian Angels Parish (1956–1962) and at Visitation Parish (1962–1966).

He was vice-chancellor of the Kansas City Diocese from 1964 to 1969, during which time he also assisted at St. Therese Parish (1966–1968) and St. James Parish (1968–1969). From 1969 to 1976, he was pastor of St. John Francis Regis Parish. He also taught as Bishop Lillis High School, Loretto Academy, and St. Pius X High School.

On July 1, 1976, Hart was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Titular Bishop of Thimida Regia by Pope Paul VI. He received his episcopal consecration on the following August 31 from Bishop Hubert Newell, with Bishops Charles Helmsing and Michael McAuliffe serving as co-consecrators. As an auxiliary bishop, he served as vicar general of the Cheyenne Diocese and pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Casper. Following the retirement of Bishop Newell, Hart was named the sixth Bishop of Cheyenne on April 25, 1978.

He was formally installed at St. Mary's Cathedral on the following June 12, and selected as his episcopal motto: "Dominus Pars." During his tenure as Bishop, he established the annual Bishop's Appeal and ordained 25 priests for the Diocese. He retired on September 26, 2001, after twenty-three years as ordinary of the Cheyenne Diocese. In 1989 and 1992, the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph received accusations that Hart had sexually abused young boys in the early 1970s, when he was still a Missouri priest.

He volunteered to go to an Arizona residential facility for a psychiatric evaluation, which later concluded that Hart "does not appear to be a threat to himself or others on any level." The allegations were reported to the Papal Nuncio and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, but were not revealed to the public until January 2002. Hart "categorically and completely" denied the allegations, which he described as "baseless" and sources of "great pain... embarrassment." In 2002, Hart was accused of repeatedly coercing a 14-year-old boy to expose himself in 1977, when Hart was an auxiliary bishop in Cheyenne. He was later cleared of the charges in July of that year.

In 2004, Hart was named in a civil lawsuit alleging that he sexually abused three children while he was serving in Kansas City and later Cheyenne. In 2005, a fifth person alleged abuse by Hart in 1973 or 1974, when he was a 12-year-old parishioner at St. John Francis Regis Parish. In August 2008, the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese paid a $10 million settlement to a group of 47 victims who cited Hart among 12 other clergymen responsible for their abuse.

Membership

He was an active member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and served as chairman of the bishops of Conference Region XIII (which includes the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming) for six years.