Editorials by Monsignor William J. Linder

A Spiritual Message In The Wake Of Charlottesville

We have all heard about what happened in Charlottesville, Va. White supremacists gathered in large numbers to spread their message and clashed with counter protesters. A woman was killed and more than a dozen others were injured when a man intentionally drove his car into a group of people speaking out against the white nationalist rally. Two Virginia State Troopers died when their helicopter crashed as they were performing surveillance during the rally. I wanted to share the words of Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, the Archbishop of Newark, which he released the Monday after the violence. It’s a spiritual message, not political. It calls attention to our obligations as mature Christians. Cardinal Tobin’s statement is so much different than what we’ve seen on TV and in the news since the events transpired. I want to share it with everyone in its entirety: The one and a half million Catholic men, ...
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Political Leaders Shouldn’t Demand Loyalty

Former FBI Director James Comey testified that President Trump demanded loyalty and called for an end to the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s connections to Russia. That’s disturbing. Since when do we pledge loyalty to a person? Adolf Hitler did that with the German Army. We’re a democratic country here, not fascist. We pledge allegiance to and respect for the country, not an individual leader. That’s ridiculous. When Trump made his demand for loyalty, Comey said he would give him honesty. That’s a good answer. We ought to get more officials to make that pledge. Instead he got fired. The sad part about the whole situation is that some members of the Senate accept Trump’s actions as a fact of life. Demanding loyalty from the director of the FBI is not OK. The head of the FBI reports to the attorney general, not the president. And that ...
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Trump Visits Pope Francis

A nursing home is more than just a place to convalesce. It becomes a second home. The staff function as your family, fellow residents become friends and areas like the rehabilitation therapy room, cafeteria and lobby serve as a living room for social interactions. For the most vulnerable residents of the inner city, New Community Extended Care Facility has provided quality care in a patient-focused environment. The residents have long known what Medicare.gov officially reported in April. Let me be clear, the staff is second to none and does their work with tremendous care. The nursing staff, led by Director of Nursing Veronica Onwunaka, as well as activities, housekeeping, dietary and business office provide excellent care because of the way that NCC has personally touched their lives. Allow me to share the stories of Maria Cruz, Daberechi Amadi and Joyce Misiani. Maria Cruz grew up in Newark and became a certified nursing assistant in 1997 ...
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Believing In Our Youth

When I was a young priest at Queen of Angels Parish in Newark, I learned a valuable lesson about our youth: believing in them can be a powerful thing. When you set high expectations and show them that you believe in their capabilities, you will be amazed at what young people can accomplish. I witnessed the youth at Queen of Angels accomplish amazing feats, such as when they conducted legal research and exposed a slumlord for tax evasion (he served jail time) and staged sophisticated protests that put pressure on powerful politicians. They organized dance fundraisers at the church that became so popular that the line to get inside wrapped around the street. The civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., impressed upon me the fact that youth have unseen potential to do great things. They understand how to work collaboratively. They are internally driven to be part of ...
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Honoring Elnora Haynes

Elnora Haynes was truly one of a kind. It is with deep sadness that the New Community family mourns her loss. Her influence was felt far and wide. I first met Elnora many years ago at New Community. She was a faithful member of the New Community Senior Advisory Board and her gift of leadership shined. She and the other leaders from NCC’s senior buildings brought their concerns to each month’s meeting, representing their respective senior buildings in Newark, Orange and Jersey City. For 19 years, Elnora humbly volunteered as a social services aide at her building, New Community Associates, where she touched every single person who walked through the door. She was such a positive influence. She worked tirelessly as a voice for the most vulnerable members of our society—seniors and disabled residents— and ensured that their needs were met, whether it was material, emotional or spiritual. As a ...
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Back to Basics

Now that the pageantry of the president’s inauguration is over, the real work must begin. Let’s start with the basics, shall we? Many Americans have recovered from the Great Recession but some people are still reeling from its effects. The middle and upper classes have largely benefited from the growth but a Brookings Institute study shows that wages for the bottom 20 percent of earners in metropolitan cities across the U.S. have actually declined. The poor are losing ground. The little guy has been left in the dust. I can only hope that the Trump administration will take seriously the needs of the many low-income Americans represented by that statistic. President Trump has loudly proclaimed his commitment to jobs—in particular keeping jobs in America. But to frame an economic policy as being successful because jobs are being kept from going overseas is an alarmingly narrow view. The lagging growth of ...
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Heavy Thoughts Entering 2017

As we enter the New Year, let us take a moment to reflect on all that has unfolded in 2016. With Donald Trump set to take office on January 20, it is my hope that the national conversation will focus on the key issues surrounding our nation’s new commander-in-chief once he takes over the White House. The period of time since Trump’s stunning November 8 win has flown by in a blur. The holiday frenzy has now settled down. However, let me be clear that we must not lose sight of the important issues that have yet to be resolved. Trump’s massive business interest sprawled across 20-plus countries will unavoidably create conflicts of interests. Already, his daughter, Ivanka, has used major network interviews or meetings with heads of state to peddle her fine jewelry line (her $10,800 bracelet was on display). Trump’s business dealings span real estate, golf resorts and ...
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Unanswered Questions

During the 1960s, when I was a young priest, the city of Newark suffered from a massive fire that destroyed an entire city block. Newark firefighters responded in force, but it wasn’t enough. Emergency responders from neighboring municipalities came to help. One of those was the Bloomfield Fire Department. As flames ripped through buildings, it was apparent that the Bloomfield firefighters were outmatched. Yet they stood their ground and fought back the blaze, side by side, with the other firefighters. That incident seared a vivid image in my mind that I later mentioned during a Sunday sermon at Sacred Heart Parish. Apparently, the Federal Bureau of Investigation got wind of my sermon and had a problem with it. Two FBI agents soon paid a visit to the church pastor and accused me of being a communist. They also informed the pastor that the FBI had a file bearing my name ...
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A Story of Hope

There are many different reasons to write a book. Perhaps you’re a subject matter expert who wants to share knowledge. Or maybe you’re passionate about a cause and want to promote your beliefs among the wider public. Or perhaps you have experienced something so profound that you feel compelled to share those meaningful experiences. I have always considered myself a student. My life has been one long lesson in learning. That is what moved me to begin writing a book more than two decades ago. It gives me great pleasure to share my personal journey and detail the beginnings of New Community in my memoir titled “Out of the Ashes Came Hope.” It is the thread of hope that weaves together my story. With the help of co-author Gilda Rogers, I desired to write down the story of how God led me to the extraordinary people who would help build ...
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Contrasting Between Two Candidates

The presidential election this November may be the most critical election yet for American voters. The candidate that you cast your ballot for will either launch the nation forward into a new era of progressive thinking and leadership, or will drag our country backwards. The next president will either shine in the individual’s actions and attitudes towards fellow Americans or will cast a shadow of fear-mongering and divisiveness that will undoubtedly extend to our international neighbors and allies. As the founder of New Community, I have had the privilege to become personally acquainted with Hillary Clinton on several occasions. Allow me to share with you some of these stories. Years ago as First Lady, Hillary visited Babyland at New Community to learn about the challenges that teenage mothers face by hearing from them firsthand. It was a big to-do, with dignitaries and media swarming inside and outside of Babyland, hoping ...
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Doing Well, Doing Good

A nursing home is more than just a place to convalesce. It becomes a second home. The staff function as your family, fellow residents become friends and areas like the rehabilitation therapy room, cafeteria and lobby serve as living room for social interactions. For the most vulnerable residents of the inner city, New Community Extended Care Facility has provided quality care in a patient-focused environment. The residents have long known what Medicare.gov officially reported in April. Let me be clear, the staff is second to none and does their work with tremendous care. The nursing staff, led by Director of Nursing Veronica Onwunaka, as well as activities, housekeeping, dietary and business office provide excellent care because of the way that NCC has personally touched their lives. Allow me to share the stories of Maria Cruz, Daberechi Amadi and Joyce Misiani. Maria Cruz grew up in Newark and became a certified ...
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Policing Needs Change

Lights, cameras and microphones pointed at the Newark Police Department when authorities announced a long-awaited set of reforms that put the department under federal oversight after investigations revealed abusive policing tactics running rampant in New Jersey’s largest city. But now that the lights have faded since the March 30 announcement, how will the residents of Newark know what is really changing? How do officials plan to provide transparency and accountability in this effort to reform Newark’s policing practices? Let me be clear, the problems within Newark police are serious and need to be rooted out. Unconstitutional use of “stop and frisk,” racial profiling, theft and other wrongful practices have eroded the trust of residents, which ultimately, I believe, makes our city, even less safe. Policing tactics have been under scrutiny across the U.S. for many years and officials admit that many issues are systemic. Newark’s history of distrust between police and citizens goes far back. One of ...
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Financial Opportunity For All

We live in the era of billion-dollar startups and celebrities flaunting the lifestyle of the 1 percent. There’s an illusion that money comes easily and is simply a matter of striking it big. We have lost sight of the basics of how to build wealth, especially for those who are the most financially insecure. Years ago, we established the New Community Federal Credit Union with the goal of serving low to moderate income individuals who were struggling to make ends meet. Our mission is to reach residents, including members of minority communities, who find themselves beyond the reach of banks and mainstream credit unions. Our target audience includes some of the hardest to reach populations, including recent immigrants and people with disabilities, among others. Let me be clear, there are no get rich quick schemes. Our credit union members are building wealth the old-fashioned way—by opening checking and savings accounts, ...
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Pope Francis On Immigration

If the American people are looking for some wisdom amid the tired rhetoric dominating our nation’s current immigration debate, let’s look to Pope Francis for some renewed perspective. In February, Pope Francis traveled to Mexico for six days and spoke directly on the immigration crisis along the Mexico-U.S. border. He urged all those listening to see the issue as one characterized not by numbers and statistics, but illustrated by faces, families and personal stories. As he stood on a platform overlooking the Rio Grande, Pope Francis called on each of us to view illegal immigrants through the lens of humanity. Let me be clear, those who are attempting the dangerous, and all too often deadly, journey from parts of Central America through Mexico and across the border are not asking for much. They are simply seeking survival. Their hopes cling to the possibility of a future for their kids without rampant drug violence. Realistically, they ...
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The Future is Now

President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address took a long view into our nation’s future. With his second term drawing to a close, thePresident focused on the road ahead and the hope that it holds for America. For our future to contain any semblance of hope, particularly for our young people, we must set a laser-like focus on creating opportunities for them, namely in two areas: education and jobs. Many years ago when I was a young man, I worked in the construction field, building housing and roads. This paved my way to pay for a college education. Before construction, I did a stint working in retail at a men’s clothing store. On-the-jobexperience ingrained in me a sense of self-sufficiency. Upon fulfilling my duties to my boss’ satisfaction, I took home a paycheck. My employers paid money, not promises. As a result, I graduated college without being saddled ...
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Reflections

As we look ahead to the New Year, I hope that all of us can pause to reflect on 2015. Last year was filled with significant events. Let me be clear, there were some incredibly dark moments for us as a nation, as well as our world. We live in an age where mass shootings occur with disturbing frequency. The attack in San Bernardino, Calif., struck fear in many hearts, especially on the heels of the tragedies in Paris, where terrorists killed 130 people. The events of June 17, where a young man opened fire in a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., feel like a distant memory. Each time gunfire erupts and victims are laid to rest, our nation’s leaders get restless and debate the merits of gun control. The same restlessness occurred after the train derailment in Philadelphia on May 12. We must ask ourselves, what does change ...
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James Du Bose: A Man With A Big Heart

One of James “Jim” Du Bose’s favorite phrases was, “Family is everything.” You should know that Jim had a generous and broad definition of family. When he joined the ranks of the Newark Police Department at age 29, the brotherhood in blue became his family. Later in the early 1990s when he joined the Essex County Sheriff’s Department, Jim’s family that he protected and served expanded outside his hometown of Newark to the 21 other municipalities in the county. During the intervening years, Jim made New Community his home and he made all of us his family. I had known Jim for many years and learned early on that he tended to be a reserved person. He let his actions speak louder than his words. Jim developed a tremendously positive reputation among residents living in the public housing projects while he was a police officer, which made him a perfect ...
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GOP Debates Prove Fruitless

As I watched the televised Republican presidential debates, I became increasingly disturbed at the thought of Election Day drawing near. There really must be stricter qualifications for a candidate to throw his or her hat into the ring for the presidential race. Here’s what I would propose (and it has nothing to do with showing one’s birth certificate). Presidential candidates should a.) be able to identify what are the vital issues facing Americans today, and b.) articulate a pragmatic plan for how they would address such critical issues. That’s really what it should come down to. Instead, American voters have watched a group of GOP presidential hopefuls stoop to a new low as their televised exchange spiraled into utterly ridiculous banter—and signaled a painful avoidance of the real challenges facing today’s society. Candidates like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker were too busy lobbing one-liners, such as when he said, “Mr. Trump, ...
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A Place To Call Home

Military veterans deserve not only our utmost appreciation and respect, they deserve to have a roof over their head and a dignified place to call home. It sounds superfluous to say, doesn’t it? I strongly believe there’s a need to advocate for veterans who have found themselves homeless after returning from service, because it appears that they have been all but forgotten by our society. These are the men and women who selflessly served our country. Let us not forget that veterans from the Vietnam War era were drafted into the military. Decisions made by Congress reverberated in our neighborhoods and left indelible marks, for instance, when well over a dozen teens from Newark’s Central High were conscripted. These young men were not the family members of leaders seated in the corridors of power. They were shipped off to fight someone else’s war. The reality of war is sobering. When ...
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Hate Won’t Win

Extending forgiveness is rarely an easy task. But the utter power of being the undeserving recipient was fully displayed just two days after the horrific shootings at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., that left nine parishioners dead. “I forgive you.” Those were the very words, or sentiments, expressed by several relatives, whose loved ones had been slain in cold blood, at their first chance to speak to the accused gunman, Dylann Roof. “You took something very precious way from me and I will never talk to her again,” said Nadine Collier, the daughter of victim Ethel Lance, 70. “I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you.” Myra Thompson, the sister of victim DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49, acknowledged that she was “very angry” but added, “We have no room for hating, so we have to forgive. I pray God on your soul.” The victims’ families spoke ...
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Our Best Days Are Ahead

Our Best Days Are AheadEditorialBy Monsignor William J. LinderOn a balmy June day, I visited an institutionin Newark as familiar as an old friend to bear witness to a coming of age ritual: high school graduation. Graduation is a joyous occasion where tears of happiness are shed, childhood friends make pacts to stay in touch and the door to the future swings open for those who are ready to leap forward. As I attended the commencement exercises at Saint Vincent Academy, I saw rows filled with family members eagerly waiting for their daughtersto cross the stage and receive their hard earned diplomas from an academically rigorousprivate, college preparatory high school for young women in Newark. The scholarship fund that I established many years ago has financially supported many young people through their high school careers at top flight prep schools such as SVA. I was especially proud this year to ...
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Train Derailment Must Spur Change

The investigation of the train derailment in Philadelphia is shrouded by unanswered questions as well as the eerily precise words believed to have been written in an online forum a few years earlier by the Amtrak engineer on board that very train: “It shouldn’t take an act of Congress to get (the rail) industry to adopt common-sense safety systems on their own.” Eight lives were lost after Amtrak’s Northeast Regional Train No. 188 derailed on May 12. The victims included a start-up executive on her way home to the Lower East Side to see her 2-year-old, a 20-year-old aspiring Navy SEAL who graduated high school as a valedictorian, and the dean of student affairs and enrollment management at a college in Brooklyn, who had a passion for helping youth. Eight lives were cut short and many more suffered injuries after the train sped into a curve at a reported 106 ...
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A Lesson On Being A Good Neighbor

In the early 1970s, I found myself as a young scholar studying in Cuernavaca, Mexico. The time spent there was an education of the heart as well as the mind. During the day, I attended an anthropology class and in the evenings I would set out to explore and soak in the culture and customs of the region. Staying an hour outside of Mexico City, I paid a roughly 5 cent fare to ride the jitney around Cuernavaca, where mariachi music flooded the public square and one could feast on a hot meal for $1.25. My eyes were opened to another way of life and a softness of culture that’s missing in America. In Mexico, medical care was accessible and affordable. When folks saw you hanging off a packed jitney, they pulled you in and made room. What became clear to me, even back then, was that we Americans have a lot to learn from our ...
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An Open Letter Of Contempt

A strange and disturbing pattern of behavior has emerged as the norm on Capitol Hill. As partisan spats continue to rankle national politics, a destructive code of conduct based on undercutting the President has replaced civilized dealings between the Legislative and Executive branches of our federal government. The open letter to the leaders of Iran, which was signed by 47 Republican senators and drafted by Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, showed that the GOP is willing to display their disrespect of President Barack Obama’s authority more brazenly than ever. In the letter addressed to “leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” GOP lawmakers attempted to convince Iranian officials that any nuclear deal struck with the White House could easily be undone “with a stroke of apen” come January of 2017, when President Obama’s second term ends. The letter came forth as Secretary of State John Kerry and leaders of five other world powers—Britain, China, France, Germany ...
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Playing Politics

When it comes to playing politics, House Speaker John Boehner has truly perfected the art of creating division in the nation’s capital. Why else would he have extended a unilateral invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress on March 3, without first consulting the White House? Boehner’s actions essentially set up a showdown between Netanyahu and the Obama administration, which was reportedly livid over Boehner’s invitation as well as the prime minister’s decision to accept. The move came after months of wrangling between the White House and Netanyahu over the hot-button issue of Iran’s nuclear program. Instead of using his prominent position to display true leadership, Boehner orchestrated a move that smacks of secrecy and could hamper real progress in nuclear negotiations with Iran by souring U.S. relations with its key ally in the Middle East. Let me be clear, Boehner has every ...
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Regaining Our Humanity

Last February, President Barack Obama announced a set of ambitious initiatives called My Brother’s Keeper, a program designed to keep young men of color from slipping between the cracks. The program was seen as a key part of the Obama administration’s response to tragic incidents, including the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla. A lot has taken place in America over the last few years, I am sure you would agree. Recently, My Brother’s Keeper brought together about 300 male teens in Newark for a panel discussion with Mayor Ras Baraka, police officials and church leaders in a laudable effort to create a constructive dialogue. However the name of one panelist stood out above the rest: Eric Garner Jr. Garner Jr., the 19-year-old son of the Staten Island man who died after police put him in an illegal chokehold, sat next to Baraka on the panel at Central ...
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The Christmas That Never Came

They lived in the town of Chibok in Nigeria, comprised mostly of families who traditionally celebrate Christmas according to the scriptures. But for more than 200 Nigerian girls still missing after being kidnapped last April from a boarding school by home-grown extremists, Christmas never really came. How could it? Just imagine sending your child off to school and then finding out later that he or she has been kidnapped, along with dozens of their classmates. As a parent, you would experience a range of emotions, but would no doubt hold out hope that your son or daughter would one day be returned. When days turn into weeks and weeks into months, however, that hope starts to fade. For the record, dozens of the girls did in fact escape in the days following their capture, but more than 200 remain missing. The leader of the Boko Haram, the Nigerian terrorist group ...
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