Clarification from Bishop Zurek on Fr. Pavone

On the Amarillo Diocese website:

UPDATE: Canon lawyer Ed Peters has some analysis.

UPDATE II: Comments closed. When you reach a point where people are beginning to compare Fr. Pavone’s situation to Jesus headed to Calvary, things are seriously off the rails.


  1. Ed Peters just offered a few thoughts:

  2. Amen!

    Now can we PLEASE leave it to the good bishop and the good father to settle their own differences!

  3. Wonder if this clarificationhas anything to do with Fr. Pavone’s post on his website Tuesday, September 27, 8 a.m.
    “Travel planning meeting w my staff today.”

    And the comment by a friend
    “Have a safe trip Father Pavone, I will keep you in prayer. God bless.”

    Of course, it could have been a planning session via teleconference call or email correspondence. But Fr. Pavone does not deny he is traveling. He really should have, so as not to have left himself open to criticism.

  4. Actually, why should we care. There are larger concerns in our world than worrying about this.

    Can we move on?????

  5. Ed Peters is right. Now is the time for supporters to double their efforts to support Father Pavone.

  6. This was bound to come from the Bishop. Good for him. It may be for Fr Frank’s own good that he learn to take orders. He has become quite the star, even surrounded himself with an entourage that travels with him. I think some prayer and reflection are in order.

    I recieved yet another wild eyed email last night from one of his fans and all I could think was that the lunatics are running the asylum! The letter was all about how urgently Fr Pavone needed to get back on the road because he and he alone cared about the babies! Foolishness!

    Father, why can’t your group run without you, unless it really is just a backdrop for the Fr Pavone show?

    Groups like National Right to Life continue to be in the top ten most effective lobbying groups listed by Fortune 500. Even during this very pro-abortion presidency they are effectively stopping the advance of the pro-abortion agenda.

    Also, their state groups are developing and passing some amazingly strong, new and protective pro-life laws, all with out Fr Frank!

    PPL has no lobbying presence in Wash DC. They have Fr. Frank talking to pro-life groups all over the place. I think they call that preaching to the choir.

    Support your local pregnancy center, help mothers and babies. Write to your lawmakers, talk to your friends. Be a voice for the voiceless. Each of us can be a local pro-life “Star”. Speak in love, kindnesss and truth.

    That should have been Fr Frank’s legacy. We should all be able to do his job! That will allow him to get back to the supeior job of turning bread and wine into the Body of Christ in humble obiedience to his vocation.

    Thank you Deacon, for letting me vent!

  7. It may well be that the bishop is doing this for his own good. The road of fame and self-aggrandizement always leads to the same destination these days: being found ashen and lifeless in some hotel room with a litter of prescription bottles around your corpse and paperazzi clamoring for the 9-1-1 tapes. Friends don’t let friends become celebrities!

  8. Esther Ventura Ferencz says:

    @ Don, can we move on? Not so fast, Father Pavone HAS had a powerful CATHOLIC presence in the PRO LIFE movement, NO I am NOT moving on..HE HAS a PURPOSE that was granted him as GOOD and should be continued from JP2. YET his commanding Bishop usurps even JP2s comendation of Father Pavone and PFL.

    As for you LILI! Your whole post is filled w.(sorry}, the likes of a LIB CATHOLIC CHATTERBOX! INSULTING as you go along. You liken people who differ from you, as FOOLISH and FANATICAL that is very charitable and Christlike.YES we as Catholics have differences and I will not ever appologize for the fact I THINK SOME and the operative word is “SOME” of our Bishops are NOT worthy of following, THOSE who by their admission and actions supported a man such as Mr. Obama! That is outright scandal, where is your OUTRAGE madame at THE BISHOPS that allowed the Notre Dame scandal to Occur? OR Georgtown, where our Precious Lords name was covered so a mere man, who by his fiat has been the most radical pro abort POL ever, including infantcide! I never hear condemnations from the likes of YOUR IRE, just FOLLOW THE BISHOPS ORDERS! WHY do I get the FEELING you voted as in that 64% of Catholics for this NATIONAL DISGRACE for a president! Some Bishops by their lack of TRUE COMMUNION w.the CHURCHS DOCTRINES do not deserve following. I for one will not follow even “A
    BISHOP” into hell, you may be my guest!

  9. Deacon Norb says:


    You are very close to violating the “terms of Service” for this blog. That, however, is Deacon Greg’s call, not mine.

  10. Father Pavone says that he has answered every question the bishop asked about the finances of PFL. Bishop Zurek disputes that point, charging that PFL has managed to “rebuff my every attempt at calling for financial transparency.”

    How can we judge those two contradictory claims?

    The audited financial reports of PFL, which Father Pavone has now made public, provide a few clues.

    Last year PFL showed a $1.4 million budget deficit, and the group’s available cash balances dropped by over a half-million dollars.

    The latest PFL budget figures show an enormous $879,000 loan to Gospel of Life Ministries: another effort with which Father Pavone is personally involved.

    If those funds are not repaid, PFL faces an immediate financial crisis. Bishop Zurek has good reason to be worried about Father Pavone’s financial stewardship.

    But financial reports only record the sums that were raised and spent; they do not necessarily tell how and why they were raised and spent. Therein lies the larger problem.

    To aggravate matters still further, another pro-life group with which Father Pavone is affiliated (as a board member) is now planning to picket Catholic churches in the Amarillo diocese.

    The bishop went so far as to suggest that his fellow bishops “inform the Christian faithful under your care to consider withholding donations to the PFL until the issues and concerns are settled.

  11. Deacon Greg Kandra says:


    I’ll ask you to kindly treat all other commenters here with respect. Stop screaming — which is what all your CAPITALIZED LETTERS amounts to. And think before your write. Stop making accusations that you can’t prove. What part of Lili’s post do you find to be objectionable? The notion that PFL can go on without Fr. Pavone? The idea that we should all take up the banner and work for life? The notion that Fr. Pavone should be obedient to his bishop?

    Let’s be clear about a few things:

    Bishop Zurek is not usurping anyone. Fr. Pavone can continue to his pro-life work. But for the time being, he has to do it in Amarillo. Bishop Zurek is simply doing what he’s supposed to do as a bishop: shepherd his priests.

    Also, Fr. Pavone has made a promise of obedience to this bishop and all his successors. Bishop Zurek isn’t asking Fr. Pavone to do anything that goes against Church teaching; he’s asking him to do what he was ordained to do.

    PFL has a long list of bishops, many of them prominent (like Chaput) who serve as the charity’s advisors. Since this debacle began, the vast majority of those bishops has remained silent — indicating that this is a matter between one bishop and one priest, and none of their business. Maybe it’s time we followed their example.

    Dcn. G.

  12. Profetus is EVERYTHING says:

    How many thousands of innocent blessed babies will die today… this is too tremendous a cross and horror to bear, imprisoned Fr. Pavone, just like an apostle. He’s been nothing but utmost obedient and faithful. Now babies will suffer horrifically because he’s suspended from the one thing that matters more than anything, saving babies from a terrifying death. Baby Joseph might still be with us had Fr. Pavone been able to see and heal him. This Bp. will have much to answer for… we the really, truly prolife see it so clearly. Dedicate all rosaries to Fr. Frank, Our Lady will free him.

  13. Profetus,

    Your comments are truly disturbing. I’m a national leader in the pro-life movement (National Director of Medical Students for Life of America), and from that vantage point need to set straight the many distortions in your comments.

    The pro-life movement is a large, LARGE, movement with hundreds of organizations. Father Pavone has been inspirational for a great many of us, and has fired up the base. However, Father Pavone is not Jesus: “Lord had you been here, my brother would not have died” as you allude with baby Joseph. In fact, Father Pavone did see baby Joseph when he brought him here to the U.S.

    Father Pavone is not single-handedly responsible for holding down the numbers of abortions. This sort of hagiography is exactly the sort of thing that would make any sane and rational bishop keep Father Pavone down in Amarillo permanently. It’s stuff like this that presents a danger to his soul, and the souls of all who come to see Father Pavone as anything more than a priest.

    He’s not a bishop, and he’s not the Holy Spirit.

    When prolifers see the diocesan priesthood as a prison, then its time for a little recalibration. Twenty years from today, Father Pavone, myself, and most of the national pro-life leadership will be in our 70′s, assuming that God allows us all to be here in 20 years. The college students who are now in students for life will be running the show. They’ll be in their late 30′s and early 40′s by then.

    Somewhere between now and then every single one of us in the national leadership needs to train the next generation of leaders, to groom our successors. My ten year old daughter told me what she would write if she had a popular blog like mine, so I had her write it up on my blog. It’s the 10th most viewed article in the nearly 600 that I’ve written and posted:

    We have to do more than groom our successors. We need to be humble enough to realize that our approach is not the only approach, and that the young will have fresh ideas, fresh approaches. For all the good that Father Pavone has done, and it is considerable, Lila Rose has dealt Planned Parenthood near-mortal blows with her undercover video stings. Not yet 25 years old, this woman’s work has resulted in Planned Parenthood losing almost 100 million dollars in government funding this year, and now a Congressional investigation into their fraud and child abuse.

    The more that folks such as yourself proclaim Father Pavone the equal of the Messiah, the worse you make his condition with his bishop. Sometimes we gain more by prudent silence and quiet prayer than we do by bellicose words and distorted inflations of the man and his mission.

    God loves Father Pavone too, and has a plan for him. You won’t be successful in lobbying God to do anything other than His perfect will. Honor Father Pavone and his great life’s work by pouring your energies into that work, and trust the rest to God.

    That’s what I’m doing.

  14. I am not sure how Father Pavone not being on the road will stop an abortion. As far as Father Pavone healing Baby Joseph – I heard that he has the charism of healing or life giving. The pro-life movement will continue with or without Father Pavone. If there are pro-life folks who must have a “hero” to follow, I am not sure of their dedication to the pro-life movement.
    It really appears that the Bishop is concerned about Father Pavone’s spiritual health and nothing else. Maybe we should follow the Bishop’s example and retreat to quiet prayer and let these two men work through this issue with God’s help.
    But regardless please stop making these wild claims about Father Pavone and the Bishop.

  15. I heard that he has the charism of healing or life giving – it should read I haven’t heard that he has the charism of healing or life giving.

  16. I agree with Peters; ‘suspension’ was not a helpful choice of words. The bishop needs an editor.

  17. Cheryl-Helene Thomson says:

    @deacong – Personally, I don’t believe the Vat II, Novus Ordo, has legitimate requirements for “deacons”. Therefore, I do not recognize your ‘title’. Sorry.

  18. naturgesetz says:


    Your personal beliefs about who is a deacon don’t matter.

  19. Pope Cheryl-Helene,

    I’m sorry. I seem to have missed news of your conclave. Even so, Your Holiness must know that Councils of the Church teach infallibly.

  20. Deacon Greg Kandra says:


    Thank you for the apology. I’d like to just make three brief points.

    1. You’re off topic.
    2. You’re wrong.
    3. I don’t care.

    God bless,
    Dcn. G.

  21. Tony de New York says:

    Good4 da bishop!

  22. That’s the best response I’ve seen and it makes my day. We love you Deacon Greg.

  23. I agree with Gerard Nadal 99%. Didn’t you become a “national pro-life leader” less than 30 days ago? Pretty insightful for a newbie!

    My only disagreement is the statement crediting one person (Lila Rose) for the success in putting Planned Parenthood in a public bad light. Many people deserve the “credit.”

    I love the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform’s Corporate Acciuntabity Project, and Genocide Awareness Project, for example. (Although I think CBR’s response to the Fr. Pavone mess was a foolish work of the heart rather than the brain.)

    Like you said about Fr. Pavone, no one person is responsible for our successes, even though some individuals may play a “more important” role than others. I think that’s a good thing and one reason why the prolife movement is stronger than it might be otherwise.

    One final thought. Fr. Pavone should have spent the last two weeks in Amarillo in quiet reflection and prayer rather than doing countless TV, radio and newspaper interviews (not to mention blogging) where he blasted the Bishop–giving his side of the story in a media blitz. If I were his employer, I would fire him for doing something so outrageously disrespectful. It’s a good think he’s a priest so his vocation is much more secure.

    God bless you all!

  24. It seems most of the criticism of Fr. Pavone is REALLY about comments (via email, etc.) of SOME followers of PFL. I still think Fr. Pavone is being obedient to his Bishop. It is not the fault of Fr. Pavone that some folks are sending misguided commentary. I will increase my monthly donation to PFL and other pro-life organizations (National Right to Life, Aid the the Church in Need , Peter’s Pence, etc.). PFL will survive without Fr. Pavone, but I still think he should be allowed to minister nationally about life issues. I also think he should obey his Bishop (and he is).

  25. Mike,

    No, actually I’ve been in other posts for a couple of years.

  26. Jack B. Nimble says:

    Deacon K., you made me LOL as the internet kids might say. As is said by your Aussie friends, good on you.

  27. Thank you, Deacon, standing up for me. I have many friend sin the pro-life movement that would really be shaking their heads to hear me called a liberal!

    Thank you, Dr Nadal, again for your insight. You are especially correct about the need to train the next generation of leaders. I love to get chances locally to work w/ university and high school kids. Happily, the under 25 yr old crowd is quite pro-life. Sadly, I fear one reason for that is because my generation killed so many of their peers. God forgive us!

    It is tragic that so many Fr Pavone supporters appear to suffer from a lack of understanding about how laws are actually changed in our own country and about how the church governs itself. Both of which lead to the wild eyed hero worship that even has Fr Frank believing his own publicity!

    I hope that Bishop Zurek can handle in charity and strength what it appears Fr P. needs by way of redirection!

    Peace and prayers for both men!

  28. What misdeed is the bishop suggesting, that would warrant this kind of penance? If donations to PFL dwindle as a result of such innuendos, it will be a self fulfilling prophecy. Fr. Frank may not want to but PFL might need to look at legal recourse against the diocese.

  29. As a SNM participant, it’s very heartbreaking to read so much division on both sides. I agree with silent reflection and prayer for all here. So many prayers are needed for Bishop Zurek and Fr. Pavone. Thank you, Dr. Nadal, for St. John Vianney Novena. Personally, after much prayer and reflection on this matter, what instantly came into my mind was “Be still and know that I am God.”

  30. [Comment deleted for offensive and disrespectful content -- Ed.]

  31. First, this is not an editor problem with the Bishop. By the time one is placed in that position, he certainly knows that when you as bishop are talking about a priest and use the word suspended, not once, but twice, he means to use that word. If it is true about what Ed Peters says about canon law and the use of that word, it would appear that the Bishop is in fact saying Father Pavone has done something very wrong in his opinion that would warrant the use of this action and wording by the Bishop. However, he does not state anything in either document that states what he is claiming Father Pavone has done to deserve this action.

    I would think thus that the priest has the right to get this out in the open and get his name cleared. If he were silent, those who want to see PFL stopped or severly impaired would be saying his silence proves he must be guilty of whatever the bishop suspended him for. He is acting guilty by his silence when a normal human being accused in this manner would have come out swinging. If he speaks, then he is guilty of not shutting up even though I see nothing here saying Father has been asked to be silent. He can continue his ministry from Amarillo diocese which means on a normal day, Father puts out statements in many forms. As someone who gets daily info from Father Pavone for a number of years as a major donar, it would seen strange to get nothing.

    And Mike Lane says Father Pavone has “sent out countless TV, radio and newspaper interviews (not to mention blogging) where he blasted the Bishop,” I know of nothing he has sent out once blast this Bishop and believe this should be edited or commented on as not true in editing process. I also can easily count the instance since this situation started that Father Pavone has sent out TV, radio, and newspaper interview or blogging personally so they have not been countless or blasing the bishop in any way.

    In many ways to date the Catholic system for handling these type of issues is working with a priest who is suspended going back to the diocese as ordered, I would assume that he is in prayer and relection since he does this every day as ordered. The priest is defending himself and I have seen nothing where he blasts the bishop. The priest is trying to work things out with this Bishop. The priest who is suspended has the right under canon law to appeal this to rome. The priest still have first amendment rights to put out his side of the story and he has not been ordered to remain silent. In fact, as stated, the Bishop has given him full authority to continue which means he will give daily updates on what he is doing. Anyone else on the PFL major donor mailing list would tell you that you get a lot of updates from Father directly and the organziation.

    It seems in fact that things are going as one would expect in all areas also with the Catholic blogs covering this story and those on the left who do not like PFL methods coming out in favor of it being silenced by silencing its leader. Father Pavone who be the first to say PFL without Father Pavone will continue its mission, but when you silence the head, you impair it at a minimum for some time and right now, it is important to note that all Catholic voices that care about life need to be working well to stop us from reelecting the most pro abortion candidate in our history. Failing to do so could insure generations of babies will be murdered.

  32. I for one am confused.

    First zurek says Fr. Frank Pavone is “suspended”.

    Then a week later another letter comes out that “he is not suspended and he is a priest in good standing”.

    Then two weeks after zurek comes back from vacation from Rio de Janiero (how’s your tan, bishop?) … he again says Fr. Frank is “suspended” once again?

    [Edited for gratuitous and disrespectful content. -- Ed.]

  33. [Commented deleted for containing baseless accusations. -- Ed.]

  34. This latest letter makes me feel bad to Msgr. Waldow… he had to try and clean up the mess made by the letter Bishop Zurek that was leaked. He cleared it as best he could by stating Fr. Pavone is not suspended and is still a priest in good standing. Now Bishop Zurek uses the the word “suspended” again. Perhaps Dr. Ed Peters is right and he (Bishop Zurek) is using the casual sense of the word and not the canonical sense but I just don’t see it. It still doesn’t add up with the his first letter. He is a bishop and that letter was sent to all his brother bishops (the tone used plus the use of the word suspend), they all have an understanding of canon law and definitions of words in the canonical sense. Surely Bishop Zurek has advisers and whatnot that looked over the letter. And like Dr. Peters said, this kind of use of certain words still happens. But this was letter sent to ALL the other bishops…

  35. John Flaherty says:

    As Dr Peters and others insistently proclaim, Bishop Zurek has the authority to require this of Fr Pavone. My question remains:
    Why would you do this now?
    Fr Pavone has been under Bishop Zurek’s authority for four years now. To date, I’ve heard nothing at all about anything that Fr Frank has done that would require altering his ministry this dramatically. I’ve never heard any hint that His Excellency might decide soon that this spiritual son needed to change focus. Even now, I get the impression that the bishop and the priest haven’t met. His Excellency’s subordinate seems to be handling the matter.
    If Bishop Zurek really has that big a problem with Fr Pavone’s actions, I should think he’d want to meet with him, if only to give a stern lecture on what’s wrong.

    Put simply, this decision makes no sense.

  36. Why would you do this now?

    I think the answer to that question is that it was manifest that Father Pavone was not going to regularize his situation. The institute for religious life he was creating was defunct. While it hasn’t gotten a lot of focus, Father Pavone being on leave to run a private association was an untenable situation that was not going to be allowed to persist. To grant Father Pavone leave to give him an opportunity to get some effort off the ground and then transition was reasonable. Seeking indefinite leave to operate a private association is not reasonable. And this is accepting Father Pavone’s argument that PFL is a private association rather than an improperly chartered apostolate.

  37. John,

    “Why would you do this now?”

    Stay with me on this one.

    This evening we learned that my sister-in-law’s husband, Joe, died today of a heart attack. He leaves behind my wife’s sister and two lovely, remarkable daughters; one a senior and the other a sophomore in high school.

    Joe and I were mere months apart in age, and so now the questions will begin. Why now, Lord? Why couldn’t you heal his heart and lungs? How could you let this happen to Andrea and the girls? WHERE WERE YOU??????

    We tend to get pretty pi$$ed off at God in these moments of breakage, and feel betrayed. Of course, nobody will ask where God was when Andrea and Joe met, when they married, when he blessed them with two stunningly beautiful and brilliant little girls with hearts of gold. Nobody will ask where God was when Joe’s life was prolonged through cardiac interventions after years of cigarette smoking destroyed his heart and lungs.

    Nobody will ask because we tend to take for granted the blessings and only focus on God when we lose them. No, we’ll only ask how God could allow it all to fall apart, as though the good things were all our doing and God’s only role is to maintain what we think we did on our own.

    The dynamic inherent in your question is much the same. Many are questioning why Bishop Zurek would call Father Pavone home now, just as people are questioning the same about God with Joe. People tend to forget that Bishop Zurek gave us Father Pavone ever since he became Bishop of Amarillo. I’ve not seen a shred of gratitude for that gift from a bishop who could use every man he can get in his parishes.

    Why now for Joe? Because there were problems that became insurmountable. Why now for Father? Because the bishop received several complaints and didn’t like the answers he was getting. For him, the problems at this point are insurmountable. It seems to be a question of each man’s vision of priorities in ministry and money management. That doesn’t necessarily mean either is wrong, or that either is entirely right, objectively speaking.

    What it does mean is that a bishop heard complaints, investigated, and felt he needed to take further action. That’s why it’s happening now.

    Had the complaints never materialized, We’d all be talking about something else right now, and nobody would be thanking Bishop Zurek for the gift of a great priest to a great cause.

    The ingratitude for that gift is a sign of spiritual malaise, the same as the ingratitude most often heard in funeral homes.

  38. Perhaps the Bishop would like to have more control in PRL. A dialogue is something I understand, however, this is a critical time in saving lives. His prescence and support of families gives a public face to the Church’s pro-life commitments. The Terri Schiavo story and the recent intervention by PFL in Baby Josph’s life are examples. People on fb did not understand the life issues without the example of Fr. Pavone. A personal touch with the families is a witness to the faith. It seems that he is holding Fr. Pavone hostage by not letting him attend the anniversay of the founding.

  39. @ Gerard Nadal – you said :
    “Because the bishop received several complaints and didn’t like the answers he was getting.”

    Unless you have inside information on this matter …. since this began 3 weeks ago, at no point did any one or any information surfaced that there were complaints made to the bishop which was why he did this.

    Who or where did you get this information from?

    Or is this something you “thought” may have happened?

    If this is so, then you shouldnt write something to that effect because that is NOT responsible journalism and it creates further doubt in people/readers mind.

    Either state how you know “the bishop has received several complaint and didnt like the answers he was getting” or DONT write that at all.

    Also, the story of your brother in law has no connection to what’s happening between Fr. Pavone and Bishop Zurek.
    Keep that on a separate blog, not here.

  40. Faye,

    You say to me:

    “Unless you have inside information on this matter …. since this began 3 weeks ago, at no point did any one or any information surfaced that there were complaints made to the bishop which was why he did this.

    “Who or where did you get this information from?

    “Or is this something you “thought” may have happened?”

    As a matter of fact, I got the the information straight from Bishop Zurek. I can hardly say that it was “inside” in the stricter sense of the term, since he wrote it in the letter to his brother bishops that has been all over the web for the past several weeks. Here is what he said:

    “There have been persistent question and concerns by clergy and laity regarding the transactions of millions of dollars of donations to the PFL from whom the donors have a rightful expectation that the monies are being used prudently. These financial questions and concerns have persisted with no clear and adequate answers since the time when Father Pavone was under two previous bishop ordinaries. Since he has consistently refused to subject the PFL to a transparent and complete auditing of all expenditures, I have reasons to be alarmed at the potential financial scandal that might arise if it were the result of my failure to correct Father Pavone’s incorrigible defiance to my legitimate authority as his Bishop.”

    As for the analogy with my brother-in-law, I think it’s rather apt. It behooves one to actually stay on top of a story before attempting to silence others for talking about that which is common knowledge.

  41. Faye,

    Earlier you said:

    “I for one am confused.”

    From your comments, I agree. It’s not an easy situation to understand. However, if I may offer a word to aid in clarifying matters…

    You need to stop scolding others and patiently, calmly read the analysis of others, starting on September 13. Ed Peters has done a tremendous job at parsing the situation. At my blog, I’ve just completed the Saint John Vianney Novena for both Father Pavone and Bishop Zurek.

    They are both good men, which adds to not only your confusion, but everyone’s. It’s so much easier when there is a good guy and a villain. When two good guys are in contention, that’s when the soul-searching and prayer become paramount, as it becomes a matter of prioritizing goods, and not punishing criminals.

    We need to pray, and to stop the scolding and screaming. We’ll never hear the Holy Spirit above the din. He whispers to us; and that requires that we sit, and be still, and wait on Him.

  42. @gerardnadal

    Your spouting off what the bishop said in his first letter but … again … where are the proofs of the complaints?

    Just like his letter, it too is based on “feelings” and lacking on facts and evidence.

    No thank you ~ to your suggestion of reading Ed Peters because since this all started … YOU and ED PETERS have been writing and spouting articles and blogs that practically GLORIFIED the bishop.

    I for one cannot wait for all this to play out and end.

    I wonder then … just how YOUR’S and ED PETERS’ blogs and articles will start to sound.

  43. Faye, they will still sound like the measured responses that they are. The chain of command runs uphill from Bishop Zurek, not down to you and me.

    He doesn’t answer directly to us, but rather is accountable for his actions to his superiors in Rome. We have a juridical system meant to protect priests from bishops who err for one reason or another. The Holy Spirit works through them, and I’m sure that justice, whatever that looks like in the end, will prevail—because God is in charge.

    If I have praised Bishop Zurek, I have also praised the work of Father Pavone, but you’re so busy being the Victorian Scold that you haven’t paused long enough to notice. Prayer. The answer is prayer.

  44. Doc N, what so many people can’t seem to get clear on is (among other things) the simple, utterly undeniable, fact that, even if Fr. Pavone presents a car load of CPAs vouching for his finances, Bp. Zurek could STILL order him back to Amarillo to serve, full-time and permanently, the needs of the local diocese in which Pavone is incardinated.

    How that unavoidable fact has not had more influence on Pavone’s conduct, and on the tone taken by his supporters, escapes me. A mystery of human behavior, I guess.

  45. MaryCatherine says:

    I would agree with Dr. Nadal and canon lawyer Ed Peters. It appears that many people don’t understand the working relationship between a bishop and his priests.
    I also believe that it is not good, no matter how holy and accomplished Father Pavone may be, that he have a cult of followers. That is what it appears to me to be.
    None of us are truly privy to all the information – we can only give an opinion on what we have read.
    Therefore, the answer is in prayer. Mary has always said priests belong to her. Let’s pray to the Blessed Mother to untie this knot.

  46. John Flaherty says:

    Dr. Nadal, Dr. Peters,
    Your appraisals strike me as being somewhat intellectually dishonest. At the very least, this situation reeks of relatively poor leadership. I ask “why now?” precisely because of the implications of your arguments. It may be that Bishop Zurek, as bishop, technically gave us a gift of Fr Pavone’s service by allowing him to continue in his activities as director of Priest’s for Life. But until I have evidence otherwise, I will contend that it DOES strike me as more of a technicality than a workable rationale.

    A tiny bit of research demonstrates that Fr Pavone has been incardinated in Amarillo since 2005; that’s a rather interesting tidbit by the way, I hadn’t actually thought about it; I saw no need. Bishop Zurek was installed as the bishop there 2 years later. Even assuming that Bishop Zurek had never heard of Fr Pavone, I’d think any bishop would want to become acquainted with his spiritual sons fairly soon afterward. Surely the chancery staff would know about Fr Pavone and warn His Excellency, if needed. Some of them would surely be aware of the conflict with Fr Pavone’s former bishop in New York. As any leader of any organization would do with any subordinate within that organization, Bishop Zurek would want to make his expectations clear.

    Right now, it looks more like His Excellency has chosen to flex his episcopal muscles because he can, not because he has a distinctive cause for doing so. His public statements don’t ad up to a clear picture of need to me, precisely because he doesn’t charge Fr Pavone with any particular crime, canon or civil. Not even financial incompetence, though it’s possible there may be cause for THAT charge.

    No, the charge I’ve heard leveled essentially amounts to insubordination and pride. ..But I’ve seen little, if any, substantial evidence to back that claim.

    If many are shocked and angered, maybe it’s because we’d like to see a reasonably straight line between a bishop’s authority and his actions.
    Right now, it’s tough to say that Bishop Zurek’s actions fit that description.

  47. Hello JF. If you’d like to allege dishonesty against me (or Dr. GN), just do so. Qualifying your allegation of “dishonest” as “somewhat intellectually dishonest” does not put the issue squarely before the public.

    Speaking only for myself, I read law, not minds. If others want to divine the motives of either or both parties to this dispute, or who must have known what, etc., that’s their business. For my part, I have explained with ample citations my reading of the canon law applicable to this problem. If you see something dishonest about that narration, please just say so. We can talk about it. If, however, you’d like to ask “why now” questions, as is your right, at least, please, don’t use my posts as the occasion of your speculations. That’s my right.

    Best, edp.

  48. The fact remains that as his Bishop, he can order Fr Pavone back at any time for any reason. Diocesan priests are ordained for diocesan work, usually in a parish. They promise obedience (and respect) to their Bishop. They are not ordained to establish cults of popularity and be globe trotters. If PFL is God’s work it will continue without Fr Pavone.

  49. The newest letter from Bishop Zurek says nothing of the concerns of possible financial improprieties he went on about in the first letter that was leaked. This says to me that this was never about the financials at all.

    Yes the bishop has the right to recall Fr. Frank. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that order is currently nullified as Fr. Frank had made an appeal to the Vatican, which is his right. Technically he is free to go on traveling, fulfilling engagements way in advance, long before all this. And yet he has chosen to stay in Amarillo. That sounds like obedience and respect to me. Again in the newest letter, there was no mention of disobedience like in the first.

    If he wanted Fr. Frank back in Amarillo for “prayer and reflection”, why the badmouthing of him to all the other bishops in the first letter? Why ask not to donate anymore to Priests for Life?

    I’m still not buying it. And people criticize us for defending Fr. Frank — as if Bishop Zurek can do no wrong.

  50. This is truly an outrageous example from what should now be considered for all practical purposes, if not solely for ethical reasons, coming from the gang that can’t shoot straight. Still arrogantly using the term “suspension” (with all that erroneously implies to the faithful) when obviously corrected by Canon Law experts and pronouncing to the world, (again without basis in written fact for such medieval “corrective measures”) the tight restrictions upon a priest before even approaching any solutions for answering, with him, what first seemed to be misunderstandings if not outright jumping the gun with uncalled for accusations. Par for the course these days when humility isn’t seen coming from the higher echelons!

  51. This back and forth is getting to be sickening. Since this mayhem all started all I could reflect on is scene of Jesus before the Sanhedrin. Fr. Pavone is slowly being stripped of his dignity as a priest and a person. Hasn’t this thought crossed your minds? The word “suspended” implies so much. I just wonder if Bs Zurek made this decision all on his own. Was this a group effort? On Holy Thursday the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council against Jesus to put Him to death. Mark 15:1; Luke 22:66; Matthew 27:1. While Fr. Frank has appealed to the Vatican here are some cannon lawyers and know it all conservative Catholics dropping in their 2 cents and building a platform for many to take sides. Caiaphas and the other members of the Sanhedrim were exceedingly anxious lest the sentence resulting from the manifestly illegal proceedings of the night before should be annulled. That their apprehensions were not without foundation is evident, if we bear in mind the number of revolting irregularities then committed. What would be more natural than for the people, under the excitement of the occasion, to open upon them a volley of embarrassing questionings and protests? This is happening to Fr. Pavone in all of these idiotic blogs. Let’s shed some light on Bs Zurek – is it suspension or not? I wonder what he is doing in the background while we all sit here and discuss Fr. Pavone’s fate. What answer, for instance, could they give to the question of the necessity of holding a session of the council of the Sanhedrim at night, contrary to established custom? To avoid all these difficulties, the entire body of the Sanhedrim assembles early in the morning to hold a council against Jesus to put Him to death. Are they going to put Fr. Pavone to death? Along with PFL? What is going to happen to the Pro-life movement should this happen? What has this Shepherd done (Bs. Zurek)?We here call attention to the fact that the present session of the Sanhedrim is by no means held for the purpose of revising the sentence pronounced on the previous night.The condemnation of Jesus remains the same.His doom is irrevocably sealed. The only point that concerns that body now is the necessity for giving to the irregular proceedings just enacted an appearance of legality in the eyes of the people. But in their efforts to that end we shall show that irregularities were committed quite as gross as those that marked the events of the preceding session.And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led Him into their council, Mark 15; Luke 22:66. Oh my! What a disgrace! While some cannon lawyer is dissecting all of this happening – has anyone stopped to think of the repercussions on the church?

  52. This is easy to understand for those of us not involved, it’s a situation between a priest and his bishop. The priest took a vow to obey his bishop. The bishop has stated what he feels will be best for that priest – the priest has to obey, or break his vows.

    I don’t care nor is it any one else’s business what the details are. As Catholics our job is to take care of the suffering. Let this bishop take care of his priest.

    The rest of us need to ‘get a life.’

    I for one am glad to move on.

  53. What Ed Peters and Gerard Nadal seems to NOT GET is that there is no reason for Fr. Frank to be in Amarillo anymore.

    1. If there were any financial mismanagement then any scandalous financial discoveries should have come out already by now. Have any of the two of you found anything?

    2. You both claim to be pro life but you both say Fr. Frank should just shut up and stay put in Amarillo. Really? he should just stay there and be quiet? So you both think preaching in masses trumps preaching to a mass of people and talking to them about the sanctity of life? Can you both please calculate just how many people AT MAXIMUM can fill up a church in Amarillo every Sunday versus hundreds of people that Fr. Frank can reach in EWTN, in banquets, in prayer services outside abortion mills on any given day and NOT just on Sundays from all across the United States and yes … even internationally!

    If you both call yourselves PRO-LIFE … then instead of saying over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again that the bishop can just keep Fr. Frank in Amarillow for however long he likes ~ how about saying the following instead because you know its true … especially to the one who is a canon lawyer between the two of you:

    “Because Fr. Frank has made an appeal to the Vatican ~the bishops order for Pavone to return to Amarillo has been stayed. Fr. Frank DOES not need to stay and be in Amarillo right now but HE IS. Which means he is being obedient.

    Seriously, there is something wrong and fishy about the bishops actions.

    To quote: Ronald L. Conte Jr.
    Roman Catholic theologian and Bible translator

    It is odd that the Bishop says Fr. Pavone is suspended, but with faculties in his own diocese. This is not a suspension. Every priest ordinarily has faculties in his own diocese. In fact, priests only have ordinary faculties by incardination, typically by association with a diocese or religious order. Fr. Pavone can say Mass and hear confessions and dispense other Sacraments according to the usual rules and practices in the diocese. If a priest were suspended, he could not do so.

    The limitation on his ministry outside the diocese is a ruling by the Bishop, which is within his proper authority, but it is not a suspension.

    Is Bishop Zurek’s action a sin?

    In my view, it is neither reasonable nor just for Bishop Zurek to prohibit Fr. Pavone from his prolife work. He is not accused of any sin or crime. His work on prolife issues is in full accord with Church teaching and with the work of the Bishops on the same topic.

    I would go so far as to say that this restriction, if it continues for more than a brief time, is a sin by the Bishop, based on the reasonably anticipated harm to the prolife cause by the loss of Fr. Pavone’s good work in that area.

    The third font of morality, circumstances, weighs the reasonably anticipated good and bad consequences. An act is a sin under that font if the reasonably anticipated bad consequences outweigh the good. What good is accomplished by prohibiting a priest from working on prolife issues? He could still serve the diocese, and work with priests for life in his spare time. There seems to be no good that is done by removing him from this activity, and much harm. So it would be a sin for the Bishop to continue this restriction indefinitely.

    However, a brief break from any work, for prayer and reflection, is not a sin, since it may help the work when one returns to it.

    And finally, to quote Doug Lawrence:

    Editor’s note: I’m beginning to see the reasons why Bishop Zurek has been assigned to one of the smallest and most out of the way Catholic dioceses in the country.

    U.S. abortionists wantonly slaughter the equivalent of the entire population of the Diocese of Amarillo (50,000 souls) about every two weeks!

    Perhaps Pope Benedict could summon the good bishop to the Vatican for some prayer and reflection of his own, regarding the critical need for strong, Catholic leadership in the struggle against the world-wide culture of death!

  54. Dr. Nadal,
    First, let me say that I sorry for you and your family’s loss and you have my condolences and prayers.

    However I must disagree with your analogy of people asking “why now?”. God is perfect, all-knowing and infallible. Bishop Zurek, regardless of his position, is still human. This isn’t to say that Fr. Pavone is impervious to temptation of pride, greed and/or wrath. It’s to say Bishop Zurek is just as susceptible.

    As for the point you make regarding Bishop Zurek needing every man he can get in his parishes, the Diocese of Amarillo has, I believe, about 40 priests and a little over 36,000 Catholics. I’m not trying to belittling the task the clergy of Amarillo have before them, but Priests for Life has 7 priests preaching throughout the whole of the United States as well as parts of several other countries. It’s Priests for Life that needs all the priests they can get, in my opinion.

    Again, you and your family are in my prayers, as are both Bishop Zurek and Fr. Pavone.

  55. Bishop +Father+ Son. What kind of Father would drag his son to something like what is happening between Bs. Zurek and Fr. Frank? The arguing point: If Bs Zurek is concerned of Fr. Frank’s welfare why hurt him? Why did he not avoid a scandal? Who are we rallying up here? Well we have 2 lawyer’s here presenting the best cases possible. They are doing what they do best. Right? Argue a case. Build a platform. Aren’t there other details missing here? Bs Zurek made some HUGE mistakes here. Now I end with this: At this juncture, we might call attention to the part taken by the people at the instigation of the priests and scribes in this affair. But we will reserve that subject for a future treatise. (Are we going to continue to blog about this or are we going to continue praying and end the commenting here?) Our object in the present work is to hold up to view the enormous outrages committed by the Sanhedrim itself, upon which body the responsibility of our Lord”s condemnation chiefly rests. (The lawyers, bishops and church hierarchy are they condemning Fr. Frank? or are they letting him reflect & pray?) The house of Caiaphas was the vile den from whence proceeded the full depth of the cruelty and injustice that subsequently marked the proceedings at the praetorium, and found their culmination on the hill of Calvary. Seems to me like Fr. Frank Pavone is on the road to CALVARY. Are we going to allow him to be crucified along with PFL? (These blogs and articles are beginning to look like the house of Caiaphus aren’t they?)