New Jersey archdiocese promises to clamp down on pro-life priest after media hit job

New Jersey archdiocese promises to clamp down on pro-life priest after media hit job

Claire Chretien

NEWARK, New Jersey, February 9, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The Archdiocese of Newark says it will crack down on an outspoken pro-life priest after a media hit piece against him.

On Wednesday, published a scathing article about posts made by Father Peter West on his Facebook page. The article says West “has repeatedly railed against Muslims” and opined about matters of prudential judgment within Catholic teaching. It suggested he has violated the Johnson Amendment by being so political on Facebook and worried that West’s “withering attacks … run counter to the statements and philosophies of his own leader, Newark Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, and his ultimate boss, Pope Francis.”

James Goodness, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Newark, told that the archdiocese is “concerned about Father West’s comments and actions, and will be addressing them according to the protocols of the Church.”

West, who previously worked for Human Life International and Priests for Life, told LifeSiteNews that the article completely misrepresents him.

“It has half-truths, distortions of the truth, and I would say outright lies in it,” he said. For example, the article claims “that I called all millennials snowflakes, which is not true. I think that anyone who is seeking safe spaces and can’t stand to hear contrary opinions is a snowflake no matter what their age.”

The article also says West shared a post on Facebook “that challenged Obama’s authenticity as an African-American because he wasn’t raised by a poor single mother in the inner city.”

“In fact, what I was doing was defending Dr. Ben Carson against the charge that he was an inauthentic African-American and I was comparing some of his experiences to Barack Obama’s experience,” said West. “I shared a meme that … compared some of his experiences growing up to Barack Obama’s experiences. So I was basically saying that, you know, I don’t make such distinctions, but if we want to play that game, look at the contrast between Barack Obama’s life and Dr. Ben Carson’s life.”

He said the article’s misrepresentation of him as racist “troubles me” because he ministers to many African-Americans at his parish. The article doesn’t mention the full context of West’s post.

West is also vocally supportive of Catholic moral teaching on his social media. He has 8,494 Facebook followers. More than 200 people have signed a recently-launched petition asking the Archdiocese to condemn the “false, inaccurate” hit piece on him.

West said his posts about radical Islam were made “on what you might say are feminist grounds.”

He said he was troubled by “the fact that they don’t treat women as equals, that one man can have up to four [wives], that a woman is treated as an article of property, that in many of these Muslim countries, they practice female genital mutilation,” West told LifeSiteNews.

“I have met and have had positive interactions with some Islamic people … people who are of goodwill,” said West.

“I’m not dissenting from any teaching of the Church,” said West. “I consider myself a faithful Catholic. I may have some opinions that diverge from that of some of the bishops. I have promised in the future that I’m not going to take a position on anything that’s contrary to the stated positions of my ordinary.”

Tobin serves as the archbishop of Newark. Pope Francis promoted Tobin to that position in November.

Tobin has criticized those seeking moral clarity on Amoris Laetitia. At the U.S. Bishops’ 2016 meeting, Tobin worried that its new strategic plan might not focus enough on “the magisterial teaching of Pope Francis on the care for creation.”

West stressed that he respects and “will be obedient” to Tobin and from now on will not be posting items on social media that are different from Tobin’s publicly stated positions on various matters.

Will Archdiocese crack down on priests who preach liberal politics?

LifeSiteNews asked the Archdiocese of Newark:

Why it says it is “concerned” about Fr. West’s opinions on matters like immigration, which the Church teaches Catholics may legitimately disagree on.

What sort of action “according to the protocols of the Church” the Archdiocese plans on taking.

How would the Archdiocese of Newark respond to what St. Thomas Aquinas wrote about Islam?

The Doctor of the Church wrote:

[Muhammad] seduced the people by promises of carnal pleasure to which the concupiscence of the flesh goads us. His teaching also contained precepts that were in conformity with his promises, and he gave free rein to carnal pleasure. In all this, as is not unexpected, he was obeyed by carnal men. As for proofs of the truth of his doctrine, he brought forward only such as could be grasped by the natural ability of anyone with a very modest wisdom. Indeed, the truths that he taught he mingled with many fables and with doctrines of the greatest falsity. He did not bring forth any signs produced in a supernatural way, which alone fittingly gives witness to divine inspiration; for a visible action that can be only divine reveals an invisibly inspired teacher of truth. On the contrary, Muhammad said that he was sent in the power of his arms — which are signs not lacking even to robbers and tyrants. What is more, no wise men, men trained in things divine and human, believed in him from the beginning, Those who believed in him were brutal men and desert wanderers, utterly ignorant of all divine teaching, through whose numbers Muhammad forced others to become his followers by the violence of his arms. Nor do divine pronouncements on the part of preceding prophets offer him any witness. On the contrary, he perverts almost all the testimonies of the Old and New Testaments by making them into fabrications of his own, as can be seen by anyone who examines his law. It was, therefore, a shrewd decision on his part to forbid his followers to read the Old and New Testaments, lest these books convict him of falsity. It is thus clear that those who place any faith in his words believe foolishly.

And if the Archdiocese of Newark will be cracking down on priests who are opposed to President Trump’s agenda and immigration policies and use their pulpits, not private social media accounts, to express those opinions.

“This is an ongoing matter, so I am not sure when I will be in a position to speak on it again,” Goodness told LifeSiteNews in an email response to the questions.

Many priests ‘calling Trump a lot worse’

“If I have sometimes been intemperate in the terms in my use of social media and have expressed a lack of charity toward someone, I apologize for that,” said West.

The article criticized him for writing in a post that an unnamed person is a “totalitarian jerk.” West explained that a person he did not identify by name posted on his Facebook page that he was going to complain about West “and he can’t wait that I am shut down, my voice is silenced.”

“I consider that totalitarianism,” he said. “That’s a form of totalitarianism when you try to silence someone else’s opinion. That’s totalitarian.”

The article also blasts West for calling Hillary Clinton an “evil witch.”

“Should I be more temperate with regard to using such language? Yes, I do believe so,” said West. “But [there are] a lot of priests I know who are calling Trump a lot worse. They’re calling him a Nazi and all sorts of things.”

West said the article “makes it sound like I want [Clinton to be] immediately arrested and thrown into jail. But no, no. I think that there needs to be an investigation. I think she was corrupt and I think she needs to be investigated.”

“I don’t think she should be convicted without a trial,” he explained.

Father Alexander Santora, another priest in the Archdiocese of Newark, tweeted in October that Donald Trump needs to be “restrained and committed.” He suggested Trump has a “learning disability.”

“Can’t string sentences, repeats phrases, jumps around,” Santora wrote. “Forget about temperament. Try intelligence.”

Santora also has tweeted that he is “ever a Democrat.”

The Democratic Party supports taxpayer-funded abortion on demand, forcing Catholic institutions to fund birth control and abortion, and same-sex “marriage,” to name a few of its issues that are incompatible with Catholic morality.

Some of Fr. Santora’s tweets. hasn’t run a hit piece against Santora. In fact, Santora is a frequent contributer to In one article, Santora praises Jesuit Father John J. McNeill, the founder of the dissident “gay” Catholic movement. In another, he seemingly suggested a Catholic might be able to vote for a pro-abortion candidate.

Under previous Newark Archbishop John Myers, a priest was suspended from ministry after he announced that he is openly homosexual and began campaigning for the LGBT cause.

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7 comments on “New Jersey archdiocese promises to clamp down on pro-life priest after media hit job

  1. A Pro-Life Priest Faces Possible Sanctions by His Archdiocese

    Posted by Jason Kippen | Feb 8, 2017

    Sometimes you just have to say enough is enough. This is the case with Father Peter West, a priest in the Archdiocese of Newark, who is being pillared in the media for his conservative beliefs he shares on his social media accounts. In the age of “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” one should not be surprised that the social progressives and leftists would so easily get their feelings hurt but this witch-hunt is a different situation altogether.

    A reporter by the name of Mark Mueller for decided to be the arbitrator of what political views a Priest can and cannot express to people on his Facebook and Twitter pages and penned a story that characterized Father West as an “internet flamethrower.” This is tantamount to the thought police controlling the nature of discourse in our society. How dare Father West think differently than the progressives in the Roman Catholic Church who have put on par the killing of unborn children with climate change and immigration policy? How dare Father West offend the liberal orthodoxy that Mr. Mueller and his fellow liberals in the media hold so dear?

    What is even more troublesome is that it appears the Archdiocese of Newark is going to look into ways to clamp down on Father West to stop his freedom of speech. Diocesan spokesperson Jim Goodness said, “[W]e are concerned about Father West’s comments and actions, and will be addressing them according to the protocols of the Church.” This is disturbing because of the clear political tone his new boss Cardinal Tobin and others have taken against Trump and his supporters.

    Cardinal Tobin and others in the Catholic hierarchy are constantly telling us that having a practical and coherent border policy is sinful. This is just disingenuous and bad theology. At the same time, they ignore the plight of our unborn sisters and brothers in the hopes they can keep their places of honor in our degraded culture.

    Let me clue you into what I think is the real reason why Father West is being called on the carpet: He is a pro-life activist and a former Vice President of Missions at Human Life International. Cardinal Tobin and other prelates like his fellow conferee Cardinal Cupich are not hospitable to the pro-life cause and would rather cherry pick the easy issues like climate change and global warming to be popular with the opinion makers at the New York Times and Chicago Tribune.

    The political left also knows that all the levers of power have been taken away after this last election and look to the Church, which has swung left under the pontificate of Pope Francis to be their mouthpiece. Sadly, the left has found common cause with our Pope and the progressive churchmen he surrounds himself within the chanceries of the United States and the Eternal City.

    Father West and his views do not fit into the liberal, progressive worldview so he must be silenced. It is a very sad day in this nation which once respected dissent and differing views but has turned into this Orwellian nightmare where the only free speech should be the speech the political Left likes. Our Founders certainly did not have this in mind when they approved the First Amendment.

    This article about Father West raises the question whether or not the speech of a Catholic priest is subject to a different set of rules. A priest does not lose his citizenship by virtue of his ordination. But does a priest somehow give up the right to free speech, particularly in the political sphere? Is a Catholic priest allowed to speak as an individual citizen in the public square?

    I would ask you to pray for Father West.

  2. Fr. Pavone defends pro-life New Jersey priest under fire: we need more like him

    February 9, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Editor’s Note: Father Frank Pavone, the National Director of Priests for Life, has voiced his support for a New Jersey priest in hot water with his archdiocese after a media hit piece was published against him. published a scathing piece about Father Peter West in Orange, New Jersey. Father West is outspokenly in favor of the Catholic Church’s moral teachings on life and family. He has shared those opinions, as well as opinions on matters of prudential judgment within Catholic teaching – such as immigration – with a large facebook audience. He also has criticized college students, commonly referred to as “snowflakes”, who demand “safe spaces” from ideas with which they disagree.

    The Archdiocese of Newark says it is “concerned about Father West’s comments and actions, and will be addressing them according to the protocols of the Church.”

    Below is Father Pavone’s response to the controversy:

    I had the privilege of working alongside Fr. Peter West on a daily basis in the pro-life arena for some 15 years. This is a faithful and prayerful priest who is not afraid to do exactly what our Lord and his Word call us to do: to Preach the Gospel in season and out of season, whether convenient or inconvenient, welcome or unwelcome.

    Some people ask whether he has gone too far in some of his comments condemning political leaders and the evils they embrace.

    My response is that in an age when the vast majority of clergy do not go far enough, we need more priests like Fr. West.

    I was privileged to know Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a founder of the abortion industry in America. He said that he got away with unleashing abortion on America because the Catholic priests were asleep and relatively silent. And the Second Vatican Council said quite clearly, “At all times and in all places, the Church should have the true freedom to teach the faith, to proclaim its teaching about society, to carry out its task among men without hindrance, and to pass moral judgment even in matters relating to politics, whenever the fundamental rights of man or the salvation of souls requires it” (GS 76).

    The Church in America risks becoming irrelevant if we buy into the absurd idea that we can always be neutral. As Holocaust survivor Elie Weisel declared, “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

    When the Democratic party and its heroes like Hillary Clinton embrace, promote, and fund the holocaust of abortion, are we really going to pretend that we can treat them even-handedly as we do the Republican party, which declares in its platform that “the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and legislation to make clear that the 14th Amendment s protections apply to children before birth” (p. 13).

    I am not surprised that some want to punish Fr. West for being “pro-Trump.” In our secular society, thugs beat people up and ridicule them out loud in public for showing support for Mr. Trump. In the Church, we see the same bullying, but some try to justify it with fancy ecclesiatical language and dress it up in clerical robes. But it’s still just bullying and it’s still just as deplorable. I will proudly stand with Fr. West, and I’ll be wearing my “Make America Great Again” hat.

  3. Kudos to Fr. Pavone. He will be fighting one of the biggest Political Hacks , Tobin , in the Church. Tobin was fired by Benedict, for incompetence, then re hired by Francis , because they both think alike , on destroying the Church as we once knew it. Tobin is acting like that big dumb Irish brother of Mary Kate in the Quiet Man, that John Wayne had to give a big thrashing to in the fields at the end of the movie to knock some sense into the dumb bullies head. That is what we need now someone to take Francis and Tobin, Dolan and the rest of the dumb clergy bullies into the fields and knock some sense into their dumb heretical heads. St Patrick’s day is only a 5 weeks away. May have to start on the Guinness and Jameson’s early if this BS keeps up !

  4. If I may, Skipper, offer a minor suggestion? Guinness was a key sponsor of the revolt that incorporated sodomites into the NYC St Patrick’s day parade.

    I have it on good authority that Murphy’s is an equally superb stout and has no known ties to the poofster crowd on either side of the pond.

    Just a suggestion… ; – )

  5. Thank you for the suggestion! I forgot about Guinness being the supporter of the great unwashed in NYC . I will try some of the Murphy’s . I do boycott Guinness all year long but will substitute Murphys next time I go out. Happy St Patrick’s Day early. A friend of mine who was a Navy SEAL an was at Benghazi with the CIA were watching the movie , 13 Hours the other night , and at the end we toasted the brave men who died at Benghazi with a prayer and a Guinness ! Two were SEALS and friends of my friend ! God Bless our men and women in the Military and Law Enforcement . I will toast them with a prayer and a Murphy’s.

    • Sorry to digress…
      I have the utmost respect for the military, but I sometimes wonder about the judgment of its leaders. General John Nicholson testified before the Senate Armed Services committee yesterday (aired on C-span) about the need for more troops in Afghanistan. At about the 1:00:00 hour mark he testified that he was very keen on the funding of “women’s initiatives” at all levels of the Afghan society, including in the military, apparently as a result and explicitly desired effect of our military presence there. I wonder if this is the proper role of the military.

  6. Fr. West sounds like he’s probably a fairly good priest.

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