Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

Greetings to everybody that visited St. Anselm today. The numbers of people at each of the 4 services was impressive and humbling. May our Lenten journey be blessed with many graces as we journey with the Lord to the joy of Easter!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Bishop's Annual Appeal 2009

Today, at all Masses, we "showed" the video to kick off the Bishop's Annual Appeal.

Put very simply, we're only looking for a one-time gift from every family in the parish towards this year's appeal.

Be realistic! If you can only afford $25....God bless you. If you can afford a gift of $100, then God bless.

We're only asking that each family do a small part in taking part in the B.A.A....we have almost 2000 families in our parish....if every family gave $25....we would reach our goal, and then get back what we "go over goal."

For all of your generosity....THANK YOU!

Friday, February 20, 2009

N.E.T. retreat 2009

This evening we had our annual Confirmation retreat, led by the young people from N.E.T. Ministries (National Evangelization Team). We have about 75 young parishioners preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation in May. The NET team did a great job in helping our kids see that living our faith is possible, even for young people.

Our celebration of Confirmation will be on May 6, 2009, and the minister of the Sacrament will once again be Most Rev. Donald J. Reece, Archbishop of Kingston, Jamaica. Archbishop Reece is no stranger to St. Anselm parish, having celebrated Confirmation here several times in the past 10 years. Since we are already twinning with a parish in Jamaica, having Archbishop Reece come back to celebrate with us will be a very exciting moment for the whole parish.

That's why I'm inviting the entire parish to join us for Confirmations this year. Anyone who is interested in furthuring our relationship with St. Anthony's parish in Jamaica should try to come to Confirmation this year. We can use help with the ministries of hospitality, in distributing Holy Communion, and especially with our Music Ministry. Also, we'll be serving a dinner for Archbishop Reece in between the two celebrations, and it would be great to show him our St. Anselm hospitality.

So mark your calendar for May 6...and let's rejoice in the gift of the Spirit!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Making a Federal Case of it

Published: February 17, 2009

Cardinal Roger Mahony: (CNS photo)Mahony confirms probe, but U.S. attorney isn’t talking

LOS ANGELES .--.A recently impaneled federal grand jury is investigating how the Los Angeles archdiocese managed accusations that dozens of priests molested hundreds of teenagers and younger children over many years. The federal investigation, first reported by The Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times Jan. 29, threatens to ignite a new phase in the clergy sex-abuse scandal less than two years after the archdiocese agreed to pay $660 million to more than 500 victims of clergy sexual abuse.

Whether the efforts of U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, will write any new chapters of the story is at this point anyone’s guess. O’Brien’s spokesperson, Thom Mrozek, declined to acknowledge that such an investigation is even underway.

But Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony confirmed the probe in a Jan. 29 radio interview. Mahony said the archdiocese received a grand jury subpoena that called for the church to provide information on 22 priests accused of abusing minors. Of the 22, said Mahony, two are dead and the rest no longer serve as priests.

In the radio interview, Mahony said he did not know if he is a target of the investigation. No high-ranking U.S. prelate has ever been criminally charged as a result of their management of sex-abuse cases. Dioceses, religious orders and their insurers have spent billions of dollars over the past decade to settle thousands of sex-abuse claims against clergy.

See also: Plaintiffs' advocates call for release of L.A. documents

Mahony said it appeared the grand jury was looking into what priests were transferred where and “whether or not all the folks … in the parishes were notified.” He admitted that errors had been made in the past, but said that full disclosure of archdiocesan actions related to the 22 are included in the February 2004 “Report to the People of God” available on the archdiocese’s Web site.

Mistakes in dealing with clergy predators, said Mahony, resulted largely from the belief that the perpetrators needed psychological help and counseling, not referral to law-enforcement authorities. “We have said repeatedly that … our understanding of this problem and the way it’s dealt with today evolved, and that in those years ago, decades ago, people didn’t realize how serious this was, and so, rather than pulling people out of ministry directly and fully, they were moved,” said Mahony.

A diocesan spokesman told NCR that the cardinal was unavailable for an interview.

Lawyers for victims and members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) welcomed the federal probe. They contend that church officials around the country, including Los Angeles, knowingly moved dangerous predators from parish to parish or across state lines while minimizing or ignoring complaints of victims and others until the threat of legal action forced the church to settle cases.

Federal prosecutors say legal experts have wide latitude in deciding what cases to pursue and often cooperate with local law-enforcement and judicial agencies. There is considerable speculation in Los Angeles church and legal circles that the local district attorney’s office, which began investigating the archdiocese’s handling of sex-abuse cases in 2002, is providing information to the federal grand jury. The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office declined comment on the federal proceedings.

The federal grand jury was reportedly impaneled last fall. The normal duration of such a panel is up to 18 months. According to the “Handbook for Federal Grand Jurors,” a federal panel determines “whether there is probable cause to believe that a crime was committed and that a specific person or persons committed it.”

While interested parties wait to see where the federal probe is headed, they also await the release of documents — some say it could be tens of thousands of pages — from the Los Angeles archdiocese, promised as part of the 2007 settlement with victims. That process has been delayed because the original judge who was appointed to oversee the document disclosure recused himself from the case and because, say critics of the archdiocese, of objections to the process raised by church lawyers.

[Tom Roberts is NCR editor at large. His e-mail is]

Monday, February 16, 2009

Getting Ready for Lent, 2009

With one week to go till Ash Wednesday, it's time to start getting ready physically and spiritually for this holy season.

Bring your "old" palms to the Church, and we'll collect them for the burning, and we'll use them for our ashes next Wednesday.

This weekend, we'll show the video introducing the Bishop's Annual Appeal for 2009.
If you have already made a gift to the appeal...THANK YOU! If you have not, please consider a gift to the appeal which will benefit the formation of lay ministers, future priests, and other vital activities throughout the Diocese of Trenton.

Please consider participating in the B.A.A. as your Lenten practice of giving alms!

Remember the other two pillars of Lent are fasting and prayer. To that end we invite you to take part in our Friday Simple Meals and the celebration of the Stations of the Cross on Friday evenings.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bishop's Annual Appeal....2009

This weekend, we will speak about this year's Bishop's Annual Appeal. Many of you who have donated to this appeal in past years have already donated to this year's appeal. Thank you for your wonderful generosity!

Just for your information, and in keeping with our practce of being transparent, our parish's goal was raised by the Bishop's Development Office by over $2000 this year. This raise, despite our committment to not hiring any new staff positions, has been imposed on us with no input from our parish community.

Also, we have heard absolutely nothing from the Office of Catholic Education about the future of our parish's involvement in Pope John XXIII regional Catholic Grade school in Deal. As of this date, we have absolutely no idea how much money the diocese is asking us to donate toward the future of this school. While we all want to be supportive of the wonderful students and teachers at the school, the Diocesan Office of Catholic Education has been absolutely mute on this area.

It's our time to be Church, as the Bishop says in his video from the Appeal.
And so, I'm asking all of the 2000 families of our St. Anselm Parish, for a one-time gift of $25 to the Bishop's Annual Appeal for 2009. That will put us over our goal, and a percentage will come back to St. Anselm's too! With the left-over funds, we can reach out to our own parishioners, to our friends in Asbury Park and Long Branch, to the hungry and homeless who come to us for help.

It's a fact of life that the Bishop's Annual Appeal is given to us once a year. I promise you, that this is the one and only time of this year that I will speak to you about this issue. I pray that God will continue to bless you and your family for your wonderful generosity to St. Anselm, and to our local efforts to reach out to the poor and the marginal!

A Catholic Funeral, revisited

Today, we celebrated a very large funeral for a young person....only 21 years old. Funerals for young people are usually big events, and this proved true today. I must admit that I'm very proud of our parish bereavement committee, and how they host a funeral like today's celebration. They are so attentive to the many details of hospitality and reaching out to young people who may not be familiar with the Catholic celebrations of funerals. I really hope that the way we celebrate helps people to grow in their faith!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Companions Groups Starting Up

This weekend we announced the formation of the next season of small faith-sharing groups, otherwise known as our "Companions" groups. We have many different groups meeting at different times and locations during the season of Lent.
Please consider joining one of the groups. You'll be glad that you did!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Vatican flexes its muscles with Schismatic bishop

Vatican Demands Holocaust Denier Publicly Recant
By Rachel Donadio/New York Times

ROME — Responding to global outrage, especially in Pope Benedict XVI’s native Germany, the Vatican for the first time on Wednesday called on a recently rehabilitated bishop to take back his statements denying the Holocaust.

Late last month, the pope revoked the excommunication of four schismatic bishops, including British-born Richard Williamson, who in an interview broadcast last month denied the existence of the Nazi gas chambers.

A statement issued on Wednesday by the Vatican Secretariat of State said that Bishop Williamson “must absolutely, unequivocally and publicly distance himself from his positions on the Shoah,” or Holocaust, which it said were “unknown to the Holy Father at the time he revoked the excommunication.”

The unsigned statement seemed a clear indication that the Vatican was facing an internal and external political crisis.

The statement from the Secretariat of State noted Benedict’s remarks last week in which he expressed his “full and unequivocal solidarity” with Jews and condemned all Holocaust denial, yet it went far beyond the pope’s earlier remarks in which he had never mentioned Bishop Williamson by name.

The statement from the Vatican on Wednesday also sought to address significant lingering questions about what conditions the society would have to meet before being fully welcomed back into the fold. It stated that the society would have to offer its “full recognition of the Second Vatican Council” in order to receive “recognition” by the church.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Maybe the mitre is a bit too tight?

Image: logo from Williamson's blog, Dinoscopus

Richard Williamson of the SSPX has posted on his blog the text of a letter of "apology" which he sent to Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos who serves as a liaison between the Vatican and the SSPX. Included below is the introductory paragraph posted above the letter on Williamson's blog:

Following in the steps of Our Lord (Jn. XVIII, 23) and St. Paul (Acts, XXIII, 5), (SSPX founder) Archbishop Lefebvre gave his Society the example of never so cleaving to God's Truth as to abandon respect for the men holding God's Authority. In the midst of last week's media uproar, surely aimed rather at the Holy Father than at a relatively insignificant bishop, here is a letter written to Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos on January 28 by that bishop:

To His Eminence Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos

Your Eminence

Amidst this tremendous media storm stirred up by imprudent remarks of mine on Swedish television, I beg of you to accept, only as is properly respectful, my sincere regrets for having caused to yourself and to the Holy Father so much unnecessary distress and problems.

For me, all that matters is the Truth Incarnate, and the interests of His one true Church, through which alone we can save our souls and give eternal glory, in our little way, to Almighty God. So I have only one comment, from the prophet Jonas, I, 12:

"Take me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you; for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you."

Please also accept, and convey to the Holy Father, my sincere personal thanks for the document signed last Wednesday and made public on Saturday. Most humbly I will offer a Mass for both of you.

Sincerely yours in Christ

+Richard Williamson

For the life of me, I can't find any real "repudiation of Anti-Semitism" or the inane remarks of this guy about his denial of the Shoah of the Jews! Stay tuned for the latest in this little winter drama.

Oh, the NCR (National Catholic Reporter) has an interesting story about some other brothers and sisters who have been "excommunicated" who seek to be welcomed back into the fold: the women who were ordained priests and bishops without Church recognition, and the priests who support their ordination. They've all been excommunitcated officially, but they all adhere to the teachings of Vatican II. Why can't they come back if the wackos in SSPX are welcomed back, even though they still refuse to acknowledge Vatican II as a legitimate Council of the Church? Interesting stuff indeed!

Is Anti-Semitism a real condition of membership in the Society of Pope Pius X?

This is reprinted from the current issue of AMERICA magazine, regarding the controversy over the lifting of the excommunications of the SSPX "bishops", espcially the strange remarks of "bishop" Williamson of England, who denies the Shoa of the Jews.

The Anti-Semitism of the Society of St. Pius X
Posted at: 2009-01-31 10:37:00.0
Author: James Martin, S.J.

The ongoing debate over Pope Benedict's decision to lift the ban of excommunication on four bishop-members of the Society of St. Pius X has been split into to general discussions. First, the (currently) more explosive issue of the reception of Bishop Williamson into full communion with the Catholic church in light of his absurd comments on the Holocaust, which the Vatican has rejected and Cardinal Kasper termed "gibberish." (This is the issue that has been receiving more media attention.) Second, the more complex question of why the pope would move to lift the ban on a group that has as its raison d'etre the rejection of the Second Vatican Council. The first, you might say, is a more political-historical question; the second a more ecclesial-theological one.

But the two issues are linked. For one thing, a rejection of the documents of the Second Vatican Council, which includes a rejection of "Nostra Aetate," means that is more difficult for members of the Society to engage in dialogue with Jews, to respect Jewish history and to understand Jewish concerns, as well as to reflect on the sad history of Christian anti-Semitism.

Still, the question remains: Is anti-Semitism a pattern that pervades the Society of St. Pius X, or is it simply a bigotry expressed by only a few members?

The Society's website indicates the former. This appalling article, entitled "The Mystery of the Jews," is still on their official American website, as of this morning (Saturday).

It includes these comments, which read less like a contemporary theological reflection on the Jewish faith and more like passages Mein Kampf. For the record, the article was written in 1997:

"It is public knowledge that the Jewish sector, relatively small compared to the Gentile sector which devotes itself to the creation of wealth, controls especially the financial power that is exercised through banks."

"Then these Jews, in the name of their Law, their Torah, and to serve the material interests of their nation and race, demanded the blood of Him who had been promised them as their blessing. They stirred up the Gentiles against Jesus. Using them to carry out their plans, they crucified the One who was to be raised up as a "sign of contradiction".

"Judaism is inimical to all nations in general, and in a special manner to Christian nations."

"Catholics are not to enter into commercial, social, nor political relations which are bound hypocritically to seek the ruin of Christendom. Jews must not live together with Christians because this is what their own Jewish laws ordain and also because their errors and material superiority have virulent consequences among other peoples."

Bishop Williamson is one thing; an anti-Semitic tirade appearing on the group's official website is quite another. At this time, it is important to remember that in official Catholic teaching anti-Semitism is a sin, and, in the words of Pope John Paul II, an "evil."

James Martin, SJ

Getting ready for some Gospel!

We're getting ready to welcome the wonderful choir and priest from Blessed Sacrament Parish in Newark for our 5:30 p.m. Mass. We're looking forward to great singing, great preaching, and great and powerful prayer in Gospel style. Our Parish Life committee will help prepare and present a wonderful Pot-luck dinner.

We ask all families that plan to stay for dinner to please sign up on the registration forms in the church foyer. This way, we can be accurate in how many tables and chairs to set up.

Also, we ask each family that plans to come to the dinner to bring a tray of salad or enough desserts to share with others.

We will need help on Friday evening at 6:00 p.m. to help set up the Learning Center's tables, chairs and decorations. Come join us for a fun evening of set-up, and preparation, and come sample some of the "liquid refreshments" to help us "warm up" for the Blessed Sacrament Choir.

Catholic-Jewish Relations Strained

Bishop's remarks on Holocaust strain US Jewish-Catholic relations

By Chaz Muth
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Strained Jewish-Catholic relations are being felt beyond the Vatican and Israel as U.S. rabbis express their displeasure with Pope Benedict XVI's decision to lift the excommunication of a traditionalist bishop who has minimized the severity and extent of the Holocaust.

"It has been very hurtful to our Jewish partners," said Father James Massa, executive director of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. "They've been calling us for answers for what this means. The mood is very tense."

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel Jan. 27 postponed indefinitely a March meeting with the Vatican in protest over the pope lifting the excommunication of British-born Bishop Richard Williamson, who has claimed that reports about the Holocaust were exaggerated and that no Jews died in Nazi gas chambers

He was one of four bishops of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X whose excommunication was lifted by the pope Jan. 21.

The pope Jan. 28 renewed his "full and unquestionable solidarity" with the Jews and condemned all ignorance, denial and downplaying of the brutal slaughter of millions of Jewish people during the Holocaust.

According to a letter posted on his blog Jan. 30, Bishop Williamson apologized to Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos for "having caused to yourself and to the Holy Father so much unnecessary distress and problems." Cardinal Castrillon heads the "Ecclesia Dei" commission, which oversees the reconciliation of Lefebvrite Catholics with the church.

"Bishop Williamson's disgraceful remarks ... indicate his contempt for those who oppose his advocacy of Holocaust denial," said Rabbi Gary Greenebaum, the American Jewish Committee's U.S. director of interreligious affairs.

"While we appreciate that Pope Benedict has again declared his support for the Jewish people and his rejection of Holocaust denial," he continued, "we fear that the Vatican's decision to invite (Bishop) Williamson back into the Catholic Church will give legitimacy to these outrageous lies and suggest toleration of those who perpetuate them.

"Doubtless, this will contribute to the deterioration of the excellent relations between Jews and the Catholic Church," the rabbi said in a statement.

The entire ordeal has created a lot of confusion, Father Massa told Catholic News Service Jan. 29.

There is a difference between the lifting of excommunication and being in full communion with the Catholic Church, he said.

"Removing excommunication doesn't mean they are fully reconciled as priests and bishops of the Catholic Church," Father Massa said. "Like any other Catholic, they can go to Mass and receive holy Communion, but they cannot perform the sacrament themselves as fully recognized ministers of the church."

The pope said he lifted the excommunication of the four traditionalist bishops with the hope they would take further steps toward unity, including the recognition of the authority of the pope and of the Second Vatican Council.

In 1988 French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre -- the founder of the Swiss-based Society of St. Pius X -- and the bishops he ordained incurred automatic excommunication for defying papal orders against their ordination.

"In no way am I excusing (Bishop) Williamson," Rabbi Bradley Hirschfield, president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, said in a Jan. 26 blog.

"But I am willing to entertain that however much pain his reinstatement might cause relative to this issue," he said, "it may not be the only basis upon which the pope should make his decision, nor should it govern the future of church-Jewish relations, as some have already suggested/threatened it will."

Though Jewish-Catholic relations in the U.S. may be strained at the moment, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta, chairman of the USCCB's Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, said the foundation is solid and he is confident they will forge ahead with friendships intact.

"We (Catholics) are embarrassed during this episode, like when a family member has said a shameful thing," Archbishop Gregory told CNS Jan. 30.

"We'll have to take those steps necessary to let them know we value those (Catholic-Jewish) relationships, as well as our bond, love and unity with our Jewish counterparts," he said, "and that we don't in any way indent to step aside from our great tradition of friendship in this country."

The archbishop noted he was to speak at an upcoming Jewish event in his city that he already had on his calendar, and he planned to take that opportunity to assure the Jewish community he will do whatever he can to reinforce Catholic-Jewish relations.

"That is what many bishops in America will have to do -- to take that opportunity to let them know of our esteem, and strengthen our relations," he said. "The vehicles are there. We need to use them. We need to show our Jewish friends our desire to continue to move forward."

It is important now for the Catholic hierarchy to explain theological and canonical distinctions to their Jewish partners, and assure them of the church's commitment to Jewish-Catholic dialogue based on Vatican II, Father Massa said.

"We are expressing our profound dissatisfaction with the egregiously offensive comments of Bishop Williamson," he said. "It is unacceptable for a bishop who seeks to be in communion with the Catholic Church to deny the historical fact of the Shoah."

Rumors aside, FOCA legislation no threat to Catholic health care

By Nancy Frazier O'Brien
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Internet rumors to the contrary, no Catholic hospital in the United States is in danger of closing because of the Freedom of Choice Act.

As a matter of fact, the Freedom of Choice Act died with the 110th Congress and, a week after the inauguration of President Barack Obama, has not been reintroduced.

But that hasn't kept misleading e-mails from flying around the Internet, warning of the dire consequences if Obama signs FOCA into law and promoting a "FOCA novena" in the days leading up to Inauguration Day.

The Catholic Health Association "is strongly committed to opposing FOCA and (the board) is unanimous that we would do all we could to oppose it," said Bishop Robert N. Lynch of St. Petersburg, Fla., an elected member of the CHA board of trustees since June 2006.

"But there is no plan to shut down any hospital if it passes," he added in a Jan. 26 telephone interview. "There's no sense of ominous danger threatening health care institutions."

Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity who is CHA president and CEO, was equally sure that FOCA poses no threat to Catholic hospitals or to the conscience rights of those who work there.

"I don't believe that FOCA will pass, although we will continue to monitor all proposed regulations for their potential to help people in this country and for any negative assault on the life issues," she said.

As introduced in previous congresses, the legislation "has never contained anything that would force Catholic hospitals or Catholic personnel to do abortions or to participate in them," she added.

But even in a worst-case scenario, if the most dire predictions were to materialize and a federal law were to mandate that all hospitals provide abortion services, "I want to make it very clear that Catholic health care will not close and we will not compromise our principles," Sister Carol told Catholic News Service Jan. 26.

If necessary, Catholic hospitals will take a lesson from "how people have dealt with unjust laws" in American history, "and we would respond in the same way," she said.

"A very timely example" of that is segregation, which was backed up by U.S. laws and Supreme Court decisions that were unjust, Sister Carol said. "It was a very long and very painful journey to deal with that and now we have an African-American president," she added.

Some of the confusion over FOCA might arise from the fact that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops launched a long-scheduled postcard campaign to Congress against the possible legislation just as the false Internet rumors were reaching a peak.

The postcards, which are being made available for Catholics to sign at Masses over several weekends in January and February, ask members of Congress to oppose FOCA "or any similar measure, and retain laws against federal funding and promotion of abortion."

"At this time of serious national challenges, Americans should unite to serve the good of all, born and unborn," the postcards say.

The FOCA novena e-mails, the source of which has not been identified, have a different tone entirely.

Calling the legislation "the next sick chapter in the book of abortion," the e-mails say it will force all hospitals to perform abortions, increase abortions by 100,000 annually and "could result in a future amendment that would force women by law to have abortions in certain situations (rape, Down syndrome babies, etc.) and could even regulate how many children women are allowed to have."

The rumors have spread like wildfire on blogs and Web sites. On the social networking site Facebook, three separate anti-FOCA groups with membership totaling nearly 130,000 (as of early Jan. 27) contain misinformation about what the so-far-nonexistent legislation would do.

Bishop Kevin W. Vann of Fort Worth, Texas, is "brand new as episcopal liaison" to the Catholic Health Association, a position he got in part because of his background as a medical technologist for three years in a Catholic hospital in Springfield, Ill., before he began his seminary studies.

"There is nothing definite yet about what is being introduced" in Congress, he told CNS Jan. 26. "But CHA is really committed to monitoring any proposed legislation and to upholding the sacredness of life in all our institutions."

Bishop Vann said the postcard campaign, run by the U.S. bishops' pro-life office and the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment, is getting a good reception from Catholics in his diocese.

"It's real simple," he said. "It's the voice of everyday folks expressing concern about FOCA in whatever form it comes."