Bishop’s Letter Informing Faithful Regarding Good Shepherd ANCC

IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM THE BISHOP:“Splinter groups of Christians, with roots in the Roman Catholic Church, have continued to arise offering a competing doctrine contrary to our own.  Recently one of those groups, using the word “Catholic” in its title, has established itself within the Diocese of Trenton.  This is not the first time something like this has happened here.  Thankfully, this group has honestly identified itself as “independent of the Roman Catholic Church.”   Its members, especially its clergy, continue to use Roman Catholic vocabulary, symbols, liturgical prayers and sacraments but profess to be more “inclusive” than the Roman Catholic Church differing from it “on several major points, such as married clergy, female priests, divorce and re-marriage, same-sex marriage, and lay leadership.” Again, this description is an honest one but retaining the “appearance” of Roman Catholicism has caused confusion among the faithful which, in turn, has caused great concern among Roman Catholic pastors and priests.  Some of its clergy, in fact, are former or laicized Roman Catholic priests who have left the Roman Catholic priesthood and Church.  They are reaching out to Roman Catholics whom they identify as “especially ‘the alienated and disenfranchised, as well as strayed and hurt Roman Catholics who want to continue their Catholic faith’ but can’t subscribe to the Roman Church’s rules, regulations, and stigmas.”

As the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Trenton, I simply want to alert the Roman Catholic faithful to the establishment of such splinter groups since they are offering sacraments, weddings, funerals, counseling and so forth.  Before seeking to meet those pastoral and sacramental needs, Roman Catholics should inquire if those who approach them or whom they approach are, indeed, authentic and legitimate Roman Catholic pastors and priests offering ministry sanctioned and approved by the Roman Catholic Church. I cannot prevent them from offering such services within the four counties of the Diocese.  I can only alert the Roman Catholic faithful to this situation that does not further Jesus’ own prayer “that they, that we may be one.” Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M.

An important notice regarding Sacraments in the Diocese of Trenton The following advisory was issued by the Archdiocese of Newark regarding the laicization of Anthony Russell Lipari. “Anthony Russell Lipari, a former priest of the Archdiocese of Newark, abandoned ministry as a Roman Catholic priest in 2003, and had not been permitted to function as a Roman Catholic priest since that time.” Moreover, “The Archdiocese has become aware that Anthony Lipari has affiliated himself with a group calling itself The American National Catholic Church, or ANCC. In spite of confusion created by the group’s name, the ANCC is not in communion with the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis, or the Roman Catholic Church. The Church does not recognize as licit any ministerial activities in which Lipari may have engaged since he abandoned the Roman Catholic Church in 2003.”

Any Roman Catholic with doubts about Sacraments received from Lipari after 2003 should consult immediately with a local Roman Catholic priest to determine their validity under the canons of the Roman Catholic Church.