Pastor criticizes Hoboken Mayor Zimmer in church newsletter, then follows up
May 27, 2013 | 4077 views | 4 4 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CLICK ON IMAGE TO MAKE BIGGER -- Father Santora's first message about Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer. Acceptable, or out of line? Comment below.
CLICK ON IMAGE TO MAKE BIGGER -- Father Santora's first message about Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer. Acceptable, or out of line? Comment below.
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TURBULENT PRIEST (BUT NOT BECKET) -- The second newsletter from Father Santora discussing the Zimmer administration.
TURBULENT PRIEST (BUT NOT BECKET) -- The second newsletter from Father Santora discussing the Zimmer administration.
slideshow
HOBOKEN -- Should a pastor get involved politically, and if so, can he criticize a local official in the church newsletter? Or should he be more judicious than other people about where he chooses to share his feelings about local issues?

Father Alex Santora of Our Lady of Grace has criticized Mayor Dawn Zimmer over the years. Earlier this month, he did so in a church newsletter.

Then, last weekend, he followed up in another newsletter, explaining his original comments.

One parishioner was unhappy with Santora's messages, and sent us the newsletters.

"I did not think I gave up my constitutional rights when I was ordained a priest," Santora wrote in the first newsletter. "I certainly have a right to my opinions and the freedom to express them."

He made reference to Zimmer's attempts to move the day of the St. Patrick's Parade, noting that the parade originated in his parish.

But Santora also attacked Zimmer's adminstration on non-church-related matters, calling Zimmer's former head of parking and transportation an "uncivil servant."

He said that he has tried to talk with Zimmer many times, to share concerns that have been brought to him by parishioners, but that she has been cool to him.

He wrote, "I think she inherited a tough job. I grew up in Hudson County and know it's a contact sport. She has made some good initiatives. Dividing Hoboken between old timers and newcomers, as she has done, is negative and counter-productive."

Is Santora out of line, or bravely speaking his mind? What do you think? Comment below!
Comments
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Hobo87
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June 05, 2013
I love Father Santora and he's done great things for OLG. But...this is a blind spot of his IMHO. *He* is the one with the kneejerk reaction along the lines of 'BNR v newcomer' ('BNR' basically includes people like Father Santora who are lifelong residents of the county if not of Hoboken itself). Zimmer has not 'divided' people. She's just brought honest government. She's not in my frank opinion the absolute greatest mayor on the planet, but at least she's not literally robbing us (like the convicted felon/mayors Cammarano and Russo) or looking the other way while others do (like Roberts). And while many 'old timers' might honestly but mistakenly believe Zimmer is 'out to the get them', the fact is that the Old Guard politicians just want to exploit 'them v us' sentiment to get back in control and start up with the same old sweetheart deals for some, no show jobs for some, etc. Except for a few connected people, that hurts *everybody*. I admire Father Santora in many ways, just can't understand how he can be so wrong about politics in Hoboken. I also frankly think he'd be better off keeping his local political opinions out of the OLG bulletin, either way. It's not a 'free speech' issue, which only relates to the *government* shutting people up which is not relevant in this case. And by the same token the first amendment says Congress shall not establish a religion, doesn't say it's illegal for parish priests to opine on local politics in the bulletin. But, I just don't think it's appropriate.
JusttheFacts,Ma'am
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May 28, 2013
Just for the record, as a parishioner of this church for many, many years and someone who actually does attend services every week unless I don't feel well, I can honestly say, Father Santora has NEVER used the pulpit to voice his opinions regarding the people who hold office in this town. That said, he does have a right to his own opinion as everyone else does especially if someone screams at him from their car. His collar does not make him a mute. I have known Mr. Soares to be quite judgmental and opinionated. But then again, that is MY opinion.
hobokendave
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May 28, 2013
Another religious person who doesn't understand the First Amendment.

1) As an individual he has the right to say what he wants

2) As the head of a church, he has the right to discuss issues, but runs afoul of "separation of church and state" when he uses his pulpit to sway voters toward particular candidates.

and

his personal attacks on the mayor are patently "unchristian"
OldbutNew
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May 28, 2013
Never heard of this priest. I've lived in town nearly 20 years and my family has always gone to Saint Peter and Paul. I guess we lucked out when we picked our parish.