Sunday, July 1, 2012

Unanswered questions remain in Fr. Pavone case

For the past several months, Fr. Frank Pavone has been restrained by his bishop, Bishop Patrick J. Zurek of the Diocese of Amarillo, from full participation in the work of Priests for Life, due to questions regarding the "financial management of Priests for Life and about Father Pavone’s resistance to episcopal authority." Recent developments in his case seemed to indicate that progress has been made in resolving the Bishop's concerns. Has Fr. Frank Pavone been fully exonerated?

On June 26, this statement was posted regarding Fr. Pavone, who is the National Director of Priests for Life:
"We are happy to announce that the Vatican has upheld Father Frank Pavone's appeal and has declared that Father Pavone is not now nor has ever been suspended. Father Pavone remains a priest in good standing all over the world.
We were confident all along that a just decision would be made by the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy. While we fully agree that Bishop Zurek has rightful authority over the priests of his diocese, we also see the urgent need for Father Pavone to be allowed to conduct his priestly ministry outside the diocese of Amarillo for the good of the pro-life movement."

Bishop Zurek had this to say:
"In its decree of May 18, 2012, the Congregation for the Clergy has sustained Father Frank A. Pavone’s appeal of his suspension from ministry outside the Diocese of Amarillo and his appointment from me on October 4, 2011 as Chaplain of the Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ in Channing, Texas. Father Pavone is to continue his ministry as chaplain until further notice. As a gesture of good will, I will grant permission to him in individual cases, based upon their merits, to participate in pro-life events with the provision that he and I must be in agreement beforehand as to his role and function.
All other matters are outside the purview of this statement."

Since Fr. Pavone was walking the halls of Congress just this past week, it would seem that the Bishop has already granted permission to participate in pro-life events, all's well, and the conflicts have been resolved. But... is the Bishop satisfied that Priests for Life's financial house is in order? If Fr. Pavone is no longer suspended from ministry outside the Diocese, yet his appointment as Chaplain of the Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ within the Diocese still stands, how can he devote himself to full-time work at Priests for Life? Most of all, since the Vatican's statement hasn't been released to the public, we are left wondering what Rome actually decided, and whether there will be further decisions forthcoming in the case.

As Catholic World News points out, "The key question—which the two public statements did not resolve—is whether Father Pavone will be able to function effectively as president of Priests for Life.
....The bishop’s careful statement, and especially his insistence that he must reach agreement with Father Pavone on the priest’s role, showed that the fundamental conflict remains unresolved."

Phil Lawler expounds more on the questions left unanswered, here.

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