Friday, September 16, 2011

Misguided? The Wrong Approach To Supporting Fr. Frank Pavone

Below is a piece by canon lawyer Ed Peters. Few people are as non-reactionary and fact-based arbitors of fact and not speculation in situations such as this as Ed. Here is a link to his canon law perspective on many aspects of this issue. But more urgently, below is his post on some misguided campaigns to "Free Fr. Frank" or to picket the Bishop and many parishes in Amarillo. Misguided is an understatement.

CBR's plans to aggravate Fr. Pavone's problems

By Ed Peters

A group called “The Center For Bio-Ethical Reform” has decided to intervene in behalf of Fr. Pavone. I know little about CBR, but if their goal is to aggravate the Zurek-Pavone dispute, they could hardly have chosen a better array of inflammatory, indeed outrageous, methods.

“Until Bishop Zurek releases Fr. Pavone from what amounts from [sic] ecclesiastical house arrest,” proclaims a press release from CBR, its activists, carrying large color photos of aborted babies, will soon picket many Amarillo Catholic parishes and at least one Catholic middle and high school. CBR also plans to launch “a fleet of large billboard trucks bearing signs which will depict aborted babies” and has arranged for “aircraft towing large aerial billboards which will also bear aborted baby imagery and exhortational text messages.” All of this apparently meets CBR’s definition of “respectfully asking” Zurek to "FREE FR. FRANK!" and allow Pavone to resume his pro-life work outside the Diocese of Amarillo.

Really. I'm not kidding.

About the only doff of the cap to sanity I see in CBR’s announcement is its plan to post “parental warning signs…as a courtesy near targeted churches, to caution parents of small children that they may wish to attend Mass elsewhere.”

Riiiiiight, like parents are supposed to arrive at church on Sunday morning with a carload of kids and, rather than see them horrified by pictures of dead babies, pile everybody back in the car and drive to the next parish (what time is Mass there, dear?), arrive and, Great Scot!, there's a CBR picket here too!, oh for crying out loud!, where’s the next parish, honey? etc., etc. Meanwhile, just what are parents of students at Holy Cross Academy supposed to do? Drop their kids off at the next school?

Folks, this is plain nuttiness.*

I have defended, I don’t know how many times, the canonical right of Catholics to express their opinions on matters affecting the good of the Church (c. 212 § 3), and I will continue to defend the lawful exercise of that right. But what CBR has in mind is, I think, a caricature of the prudent and informed communication of views—even conflicting views—within the Church. It is, I suggest, not an exercise of the rights recognized by Canon 212, but an abuse of those rights. And, speaking of canons, any Catholics thinking about showing up for a CBR picket of an Amarillo parish or school, should read Canon 1373 as well as Canon 212.

Finally, I can only imagine that CBR’s plans in behalf of Fr. Pavone make him cringe at the prospect of being associated in the public’s mind with it. If, by chance, he has any sway with them, now would be a good time to use it.

There are yet more bizzarities in the CBR press release, like, say, this one: “A global battle is raging within Catholicism between clerics who believe the church should do more to fight abortion and those who believe the church should do less.” Ah, yes, that would explain the recent uptick in street fights we’ve seen between gangs of pro-life priests and Sons-of-Drinan clerical flash mobs. Of course, the de rigueur allusion to clergy sexual abuse and the Spanish Inquisition are made in the CBR statement.


  1. I'm not sure from having read Ed Peter's blog post if he may have overlooked that a good deal of the bishop's concern may be over donations that were made for the seminary that never was and the defunct religious order, Missionaries of the Gospel of Life. It seems any funds received for that purpose may have been commingled with PFL. The proposed seminary and religious order is the only connection Fr. Pavone is supposed to even have with the diocese, as his offices remain in Staten Island.

    There might also be an unexpressed concern over the various related organizations failure to keep up with various state and federal filing requirements. It seems that Gospel of Life Ministry is shown on as having their exempt status from the IRS revoked due to failure to file information returns for 3 consecutive years.

  2. When Cardinal Egan assigned Father Pavone to a parish in Staten Island, New York, Fr.Pavone demurred, in violation of his ordination vows of obediene to his bishop, and stirred up a petition. Cardinal Egan relented and allowed Pavone to incardinate elsewhere. In retrospect, this was a mistake made by Cardinal Egan, albeit to prevent further scandal Fr. Pavone spent a brief time in Rome doing pro-Life work , but it would seem that personality differences there led to his return to the US where he attempted to form a religious society (with ambiguous commitment to a vow of poverty) which was rejected by the Vatican. Evidently, Father Pavone does not work well as a man under authority. There can only be one bishop of a diocese at a time, and only one Pope. There is only one Prima Donna in the Catholic Church - our Blessed Lady - and priest are no substitute.

  3. Many "clients' of the former "Father" Corapi immediately rallied behind him against his canonical superiors whom they accused of doing the Devil's work. These Superiors were vindicated by the evidence. Mr. Corapi has disappeared from the radar screen, and most of those who falsely accused his Superiors have fallen silent, lacking the grace to apologize.

  4. I think much of the invective against the Bishop has less to do with the following of Father Pavone and more to do with the absolute frustration of the Prolife movement with the anemic support it receives from the Bishops in the US. Very few will put themselves on the line as so many Prolifers do on a daily basis. If the hierarchy of the Church was more concerned and proactive about abortion, including holding Catholic politicians to account for supporting abortion, I think it would go a long way towards limiting or eliminating abortion in this country. In this case, perception is reality. Many prolifers see this as another case of a Bishop betraying the prolife cause. Don't blame Father Pavone for the frustration of prolifers. He's just the proverbial straw that broker the camel's back.

  5. Barack Obama and The Negro Project.

    Abortion and Black Genocide.

    Movie: Demographic winter - the decline of the human family

    Judie Brown and "Saving Those Damned Catholics"

    Someone should buy a publicity spot on the drudgereport to make the MAAFA 21 movie known on a large scale...

    Supreme court justice Anthony Kennedy should see this movie.

    Soros and his pro-abortion folks will come after us pro-lifers in 2012...

    Youtube Movie tip.

    Title: Maafa21

    Human rights for unborn. Have a nice day.

  6. 8:17 Anonymous,
    I can't agree with you at all regarding your conclusion about John Corapi's superiors having been vindicated. If anything, I'd say the evidence that "convicted" Corapi of sexual improprieties ALSO convicted his superiors on neglect.
    Any person who kept up with then-Father Corapi's ministry knew about his ranch in Montana 3 to 5 years ago and could easily have raised questions about his real fidelity--or lack thereof--to his priestly vows. That they did not address these concerns some time ago makes me more than a little nervous about SOLT.

    As for Fr Pavone, we seem to have a bit of a fight over what a bishop is technically allowed and what a priest is technically obligated to vs. what the priest has stated as his intentions from the get-go and what the bishops haven't made clear about their wishes.

    Say what you wish about a bishop's authority, this doesn't look to me as though Bishop Zureck necessarily has the best intentions in mind. This looks to me more like a powerplay than anything else.

    Why he's doing this now is beyond my comprehension.

  7. I'm in full agreement with Dr. Peters.

    I really like Fr. Frank Pavone, but his response to this whole matter, no matter how imperfectly Bishop Zurek proceeded in making his concerns known, disappoints me.

    As I pointed out in my own post on the matter today, this whole affair revealed a potential chink in the armor of Priests for Life. Actually, there are two that I can think of and I will simply raise two questions that came to my mind:

    1) Can Priests for Life function for any length of time without Fr. Pavone? (consider an entire Russian hockey team which perished recently in a plane crash).

    2) Is Fr. Pavone ensuring that Priests for Life is on solid footing for the future by being "the face" of the organization, rather than delegating and elevating others into some prominence?

    Think about it. If an entire pro-life rally falls apart because he can't make it, what does that say about the future of PFL?

    God has reasons why he is permitting this to happen. Bishop Zurek left town, perhaps more wisely than people give him credit for. When he left, he left behind a fair amount of proverbial rope which Fr. Pavone is now using to his discredit.

    Disputes between a bishop and a priest are not resolved in the court of public opinion. That is a secular response, not a Catholic one. The more Fr. Frank stays in the spotlight, treating this like the next big gig, the more disappointed and concerned I become.

    More here (perhaps too much - I'm not gifted with brevity):

  8. I agree with John. This is a power issue that should be taken seriously because it has affected the faith of the church and affected the the pro-life movement. It is the Bishop responsibility to expose reasons for his accusations in full transparency. Father Frank revealed all necessary documentation supporting that the financial accusations are false.

  9. Fr. Frank is obeying his bishop. I don't see what the problem is. And comparing the problem of Fr. Corapi is and Father Pavone is a false comparison.

  10. Ed Peters' latest comments are even more worthwhile:

  11. David,

    While Fr. Pavone is in the Diocese of Amarillo, I have to ask if he is complying with the spirit of the bishop's directive, which was to spend time in prayer and reflection.

    He is not helping his cause, but hurting with this media circus.

    Here is a live link to the latest post by Ed Peters, referenced by SDG above. Do read Peters' well balanced analysis, not as a canonist, but as a Catholic layman:

  12. The key issue is:
    Is the Holy Spirit calling some priests to a "vocation within a vocation" into a national and international pro-life apostolate?
    PERHAPS: a special Ordinary reportable to Rome over the full time apostolate of priests for life.

  13. St. Ignatius of Loyola declared that if he were ever ordered to disband the Company of Jesus, his life's work, he thought that he would need only fifteen minutes of quiet reflection to reconcile himself to it. Of course, he was a saint. The rest of us do well to follow, if only at a distance. We may very well require more time.

  14. This is not the time for activism on behalf of Father Pavone. Rather it is the time for prayer. Father Frank is NOT a prisoner and his priestly faculties have NOT been removed. He can still say Mass and pray his Rosary for the Unborn as well as speak out on issues of life. I also think he is setting a wonderful example of OBEDIENCE of which I hope Father Corapi will take note. A priest is obliged to obey his superiors/bishop/order and that is exactly what Father Pavone is doing. He went back to Amarillo per his bishop's directive. Father C. needs to take the same direction regarding his spiritual crisis - rather than rebel against his priestly vocation and Church authorities. I still pray for him too, because Father C., even in the absence of faculties, is still and will always be a Catholic Priest

  15. Sounds like another Pro-life Priest is being silenced, a week or so before Father Corapi was to speak at a Pro-Life event For Catholic charities he was removed. As far As I am concerned it is glaringly obvious that this is political. Too many Bishops are in Politically motivated the Bishops conference is not even run by the Pope. As far as SOLTS statement with regard to Father Corapi that would be laughed out of any courtroom. He may have done this he might have done that PLEASE may have might have?? Give me a break this is nonsense not to leave out SOLTS litany of lies. Sorry Obedience to the truth not corrupt Bishops who have a GAY agenda I have seen too many of them first hand.