"I thought it a bad idea for Kresta to give Pavone what amounted to a 40 minute infomercial while his dispute with Zurek was in full swing. Whatever problems provoked this conflict, its correct resolution must draw heavily on objective principles of canon law, and neither Pavone nor Kresta are competent to explain that canon law to the public. Indeed, Pavone’s characterizations of canon law went unchallenged in the interview and he deftly skirted some other key issues."Below is my response to Ed's criticism:
As most of you know, I interviewed Fr. Frank Pavone last week.
Canon lawyer Ed Peters and some other friends thought it imprudent for us to offer a forum for Fr. Pavone. They didn’t think Fr. Frank was acquitting himself very well and were afraid that the more he spoke the worse the situation would become. That may or may not turn out to be true.
But in a situation like this I ask myself as a Catholic, “How should I respond?” Then as a Catholic with a microphone I ask, “How should I respond?” In my role as a Catholic I respond with prayer and offering fraternal support to a brother I have worked with on various projects. As a Catholic with a microphone and an audience, I decided to post all the relevant materials including Ed Peters’ numerous commentaries and ask the principals if they want to speak to you.
We are a media outlet. We are, of course, not merely a media outlet, but on “Kresta in the Afternoon” we do current events in light of the teaching of the Church. The Fr. Frank issue is significant news for our listeners, as Ed well knows given the amount of time and ink he has spent analyzing it both as a canon lawyer and in personal commentary. Rule #1 in journalism is to get as close to the sources as possible. That would be Fr. Pavone and Bishop Zurek. We requested interviews with both and Fr. Frank replied “yes.” The Bishop’s office chose not to reply. My responsibility was to get as close to the principals in this story as possible, ask clarifying questions, and let you ask your questions. We did just that.
Ed was one of a few friends that didn’t think I should have done the interview. But Fr. Frank is a big boy…he has an Episcopal advisory board, he has a canon lawyer with him, and he heads up one of the most respected pro-life organizations around the world. He didn’t ask for my advice as to whether or not he should do the interview. Even if he had I would have told him that he was in the best position to judge this.
He is making decisions for himself which may or may not be good for him, his ministry, or the Church. The same for Bishop Zurek. We asked some clarifying questions, as did our audience, about obedience, misguided supporters, authority, and more. His answers are now part of the public record and shed some light on the situation from his point of view. Again, only one of the principals in this story decided to respond. Now Fr. Pavone’s statements can be verified or proven false.
Peters is upset because we did the interview at all when he thinks this should have been handled behind the scenes canonically. But Ed's dozen or so posts have all been public.
Nobody seems to know how Bishop Zurek’s statement to the United States Bishops got “leaked” to the public, but once public, Priests for Life had to respond to preserve its reputation. Priests for Life apparently has decided to let Fr. Frank Pavone continue to represent them during this period.
Others are welcome to make comment as Ed as done over a dozen times now. It’s not up to us or Ed to save Fr. Frank from himself, which appears to be what he thinks should have happened, as if we know how he or the Bishop want to address our audience. This is an immature, paternalistic approach which lords it over Fr. Frank. You don’t like the way he responded? Write commentaries. But without the interview Ed would not have from Fr. Frank’s own mouth his rationale for how he wants to present himself and manage public impressions of the conflict. In fact, all of Ed’s many commentaries have been without any contact with the principals.
Calling the interview an “infomercial” is silly. It was not a hostile interview. Why should it have been since the diocese of Amarillo doesn’t allege any wrongdoing and he is a priest in good standing? Why should it have been an interview which tested Fr. Franks’ grasp of canon law when in fact I don’t pretend to be a canon lawyer? This was an interview with a friend who is loved and appreciated and quite familiar to many in our audience who wanted to give people a chance to ask clarifying questions. You can’t complain that a bowling league isn’t a chess match. These are different things.
I’ve done one interview on the topic. Ed has made 12 posts on his public blog without interviewing Fr. Frank or his canon lawyer or Bishop Zurek. Fr. Frank’s canon lawyer has published a public statement. Since Ed seems so interested in keeping this in the public eye why doesn’t he interview? So I'm going to invite Ed to debate Fr. Frank’s canon lawyer. They’ve both gone public on this. Canon law issues are not above the head of the Kresta in the Afternoon listener. And I, for one, look forward to it.