I usually only publish correspondence with readers that is in some way inspiring or uplifting, or illustrates an important point. But I received an email a couple of days ago that surprised me. And since our contact page has a clear disclaimer — “Please note: we reserve the right to share or publish any correspondence we receive. If you do not wish to have your correspondence published, please specify that in your email.” — I’m going to take advantage of that right and share something with you here.
Mark Mueller is the journalist who published a column attacking New Jersey priest Fr. Peter West — a column that I took issue with in my own piece on Tuesday, February 14. Mueller wrote to me using our contact form after we published our defense of Fr. West. He seemed…displeased with how I handled the topic. His email was short and to the point:
You put up a post about Fr. Peter West in which you describe my story about him as a “hit piece” and allow him to say it was full of outright lies. Don’t you think, in fairness, you should have reached out to me? If you had looked at the screen shots in the gallery that accompanied the story, you would have seen the story was 100 percent accurate.
I felt the need to respond to Mr. Mueller. It seems that it’s always open season on orthodox priests of the Catholic Church, even as Pope Francis has gained in popularity with the progressive media. I had a real problem with Mueller’s assertion of “100 percent” accuracy, and I told him so:
Why would I reach out to you? You had your say, and I wasn’t impressed with it. Even your headline was biased, forming our first impression of Fr. West by your telling us that he was “bashing” people.
Then, you didn’t bother even giving Fr. West the dignity of his title, beginning your piece with a sentence that used only his birth name, “Peter West” – a sign of great disrespect to a Catholic priest. Would you have done the same to a doctor?
You then proceeded to engage in trying to gin up anger about what he said, tipping your hand early about your biases when you tried to smear him by association with President Trump — after all, he’s an “avowed supporter”.
There’s nothing in his commentary that would, as even you conceded, violate the restrictions of the Johnson Amendment; nor is anything in what he says that violates the Code of Canon Law. And as for your screenshots, I’m not sure what the problem is. But just because you took the time to write me, I’ll go through some of them…
I then proceeded to do a point-by-point rebuttal of the idea that there was anything truly controversial or inaccurate in the screenshots Mueller used to document his article. This section of my response is too long, political, and specific to share here. You’d have to cross-reference the screenshots, and that’s more work than you need to do on a Friday evening. Suffice to say, the evidence Mueller thought was a slam dunk was specious at best. I went on:
This is all just silly. These screenshots are only offensive because you disagree with him, not because he’s wrong or even out of bounds. You did attempt to cast his opinions in a negative light. If he wants to defend himself from that, he should be able to.
Your piece wasn’t an objective reflection on whether there should be limits on free speech for clergy in this country (I note that the Left is all about free speech until it opposes their ideas and candidates, by the way), it was an attempt to get a good priest into trouble with his Archdiocese.
Well, congrats! Mission accomplished! Except the Archdiocese, as I pointed out, doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Not only are there no such “protocols” — and they know it — but they would need to be equitably applied to your NJ.com colleague, Fr. Santora. I’ve cataloged some of his political speech, and it’s just as flamboyant, but from the Left.
If you don’t want to get called out on hit pieces, don’t write them.
Mueller never responded to me. I don’t expect him to. Frankly, I don’t even know if my response did any good. But I’m tired of seeing good people — good priests especially — pushed around.
Sometimes, you have to push back.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have eight children. You can find more of his writing at his Substack, The Skojec File.
God reward you! Good work … as usual.
Bravo, Steve! Doncha just love it when they whine and cry When they’re caught with their hand in the cookie jar? I would have gone on a little longer about the left’s hypocrisy and over done it. You were just right. Good job!
Just what this Church needs now: A man’s man! 🙂 (And a real woman’s too!) Bravo, Steve!
So so so GOOD! Love this site. Love the push back.
You do such great work, Steve. Thank you for putting Mr. Mueller in his place and sharing it with us. Love it!
Good job, Steve!
What you did here, Steve, is similar to what you watched Pres. Trump do yesterday. He’s clearly studied his presidential history and noted that Republican pols who don’t fight back vigorously, people like Bush, Nixon, and Romney, for example, simply get crushed by the unfair, biased media. Catholic priests like Fr. West, subject as they are to their ordinaries, have a more limited scope of action than Donald Trump does; they have to swallow sometimes perfectly valid arguments in their own defense. As laymen, however, you and I are not so constrained, and we can rise to the defense of good men who are suffering persecution. I think in your exchange with Mr. Mueller, we see a splendid example of your doing just that.
Go after the enemy of God’s people!!
Good for you. I doubt this is over, though. SJWs and leftists in general always, always do two things:
1.) They always project.
2.) They always double down.
However, they are fundamentally cowards. If you can present to them an emotional argument that they are being excluded from their “safe zone” or their in-group, however they perceive that to be, they will immediately cave. They don’t respond will to logical arguments, but if you attack them emotionally at their level of belonging, it causes them physical pain, their amygdala is hijacked, and they cannot respond. It terrifies them, and they will do literally anything to make it stop.
Or – on a different plane of being – SJWs have constructed a life our of lies and misconceptions. If you speak truth to them about anything, you threaten that (falsely erected) part of their existence which is based on a lie corresponding to the truth you offer. They think they are threatened, because truth is a threat to lies. They think they are unsafe, when by offering them truth, you give them a chance at stepping out of a death zone. They will scream: You are attacking me, when you throw them a life-line.
It is a very challenging task, trying to help them. The moment they realize you are a Christian, no matter how good, how rational, how helpful you are, they think you are an idiot who believes in talking snakes and bushes.
Should we not believe in talking snakes and bushes? Just wondering…
Kudos to Father West and to Steve .
This perception of Christianity is very reductionist. I focus on Jesus Christ.
Yes, I understand your point.
My comment was meant to be a wee pushback against those who are embarrassed by Genesis.
God bless you for your Defense of the Truth especially with these arrogant bullies that attack easy, defenseless Catholic targets.
God bless you Steve. Your response was brilliant! I appreciate the support. Fr. West
Thank you, Father!
Dear Father West, we thank you for your courage and strength! We miss you!
Robert and Maike, with children
Excellent! Thank you!!
Great rebuttal to the lefty attack on Fr. West. Heartening.
Jolly Good Response!! Entirely Correct and about Time!
We Catholic Christians need to “man up” and push back with facts and vigor.!
Enough of this!….Christ Himself said: (paraphrase) If I spoke rightly why do you strike Me?
We need to follow your wonderful example and ” strike back”! …as Christ did…with
well delivered Words.! Well Done!
So impressed with the strong intensity of this article in defense of Fr. Peter West…
Great job Steve! That was an excellent response!!!
Good job! God reward you for your bravery and defending justice and truth, especially for many good men and women that are being persecuted for their standing up for the Truth and Gospel
The liberal MSM have had it all their own way for far too long. The have indulged in opinion formation and social engineering without any serious opposition because people have been too afraid to get in their bad books. All the while they pretend they are merely reporting on facts and opinion while in reality they have been forming facts and opinion so that they conform with their biases. The revolution of social marxism and sodomizing of the culture has largley been at the instigation of the MSM.
So thank you, Steve and Fr West, for both in your own ways taking the battle back to them and refusing to be cowed before these agents of iniquity.
Good job Steve. I hope he got the message. The truth will always prevail.
I second what Fr. West wrote. Yes, God bless you and bless you over and over again for the way you pushed back against Mueller, and for the work and effort that the pushback took. And God bless you in everything you do.
Exactly. Well done.
Well done, Steve! As we say in the Navy, “Bravo Zulu”! God bless Fr. West and God bless you.
Thank you for pushing back on behalf of priests. Well done!
The faithful have just begun Father.
Do not worry.
The devil is in the details. Mark Mueller is in the details.
The time to push back has arrived. Good Job. But don’t be surprised if the progressives eventually censor any form of push back, because they are committed to a cause that doesn’t do well, out side the echo chamber. They are the ones who will end up as the new Nazi’s. Be prepared.
When you stand up to bullies, they usually fold!
Yes, bullies are cowards in reality who pick easy targets.
Thank you, everyone. It’s a small battle in a larger war. But we’ve got to defend our own.
Good job Steve. I am so sick of the leftist in the church and the media. Time to called them all phonies or should I say fake. Non American and not faithful Catholics. God help us!
Perfect! I am so sick of the left. (esp if they’re in our clergy)
Steve, as a member of the Archdiocese of Newark I am familiar with the hit pieces this reporter had on former Archbishop Myers. Unless it is a left wing Catholic then he’s at them. True, he does write stories about priests accused of crimes with young people but when he goes after a Catholic Priest his stories are very slanted. There was no reason to go after Father West other than he was a conservative who spoke out against liberal nonsense which more clerics need to do. I am proud of Fr. West. He regularly took pot-shots as former Archbishop Myers, especially after Myers had an insert included in all archdiocesan Church bulletins defending the traditional family. This guy was very quick to interview SNAP but never mentioned that SNAP was a highly controversial group that seemed to be funded very heavily by lawyers who sued churches and even had their founder, Barbara Baine even wrote a letter to the Louisiana Board of Medical Examiners to go easy one one of their sympathetic psychologist, Dr. Steven Taylor, who were charged with having over 100 images of child pornography on his computer –
The reporter of question had time to interview anyone who had an ill opinion of church policy, even if it were three people protesting, including a former priest named Hoatson who tried to sue the Archdiocese of Newark, New York and Albany –
And Mueller considered this guy a serious source about the church’s doing. Steve, you were very right to put this reporter in his place. God bless you for coming to the defense of Fr. West. When Mueller wrote his attack pieces on the church which ended in the resignation of a priest I presented the above information of Hoatson and Baine in the comments section. Even those references didn’t have Mueller stop referring to both SNAP and Hoatson in his follow up articles. Putting such reporters in their place is a service to both God and Man !!! Thank you again !!!
By they way, Mueller’s newspaper blocked me from their website under my I M Forman name when I asked if the newspaper had a policy to print any front-page notices on any employees who were ONLY accused of wrongdoing on their front page to warn the public that an untrustworthy person was working for their paper. This was based on a demand some other anti-Catholic group wanted the church to do on their website. Muller wrote about this in one of his articles. Needless to say they were not happy with my question in the comments section.
Santora’s pro-sodomy, pro-abortion social-media posts are infinitely more objectionable than anything posted by Fr. West.
(Pom poms out and waving)
Go Steve Go!
Sometimes you have to push back? No, all the time you have to push back. Enough is enough.
God bless you Fr. West and Steve. Keep up the good fight.
Excellent! Thank you for taking the time to respond. The worm has gone back into the ground.
Father West is a good priest.
I love you, Steve. Thanks.