On Fr. Pavone: his "last stand"?

That’s how Phil Lawler is characterizing the pro-life activist’s current circumstances, and he gives an interesting overview of what led to this point:

The controversy that finally hit the headlines last week is a sad one, a damaging one for the pro-life movement, but not a new one. It was all too easy to see it coming.

For years Father Pavone has sought autonomy for his organization, Priests for Life. His quest for independence caused some tension with the Archdiocese of New York, where he originally served. At first it seemed that tension was resolved when he moved to the Amarillo diocese. But it cropped up again with Bishop John Yanta, who had welcomed him to Texas. Finally it came to a head under Bishop Yanta’s successor, Bishop Patrick Zurek.

Bishop Zurek’s decision to recall Father Pavone to Amarillo, and restrict him to ministry there, was not a bolt from the blue, then. Father Pavone has disclosed that he had been discussing the possibility with his bishop for several months. No doubt both, the bishop and the priest, had been seeking advice from canon lawyers and support from friends, trying to influence each other, hoping to resolve the mounting tension without a public ruckus.

Especially in light of those behind-the-scenes negotiations, and the consultations that must have taken place, it is unfortunate that Bishop Zurek sloppily used the word “suspend” in the public announcement of his decision. Father Pavone was not suspended; he remains a priest in good standing. He was summoned to serve the Church in the diocese where he is incardinated. There is no question that the bishop has the authority to restrict a priest’s ministry in this way. Although Father Pavone has announced a canonical appeal, it is difficult to imagine how he could prevail.

In September 9 announcement, Bishop Zurek said that he took action because of “deep concerns regarding [Pavone’s] stewardship of the finances of the Priests for Life (PFL) organization.” But his concerns went deeper, he revealed. He was also worried about Father Pavone’s “incorrigible defiance to my legitimate authority as his Bishop.” Those two concerns, it becomes clear, were very closely entertwined.

Read the rest, including Lawler’s conclusion:

For years Father Pavone has run PFL as his own personal fiefdom. He has been answerable only to PFL board of directors—on which he and his paid subordinates have formed a solid voting majority. That long run of complete autonomy is now coming to an end. This is not a case in which a bishop has set out to squelch pro-life activism. It is a case in which a bishop has realized that a priest and a Catholic apostolate are both in urgent need of supervision.

Recognizing this reality may be a difficult process for Father Pavone. Until now, PFL has been his project: his baby. But he cannot continue running PFL the way he has been running it. If the mission of PFL is to continue and thrive, it will be under some new form of leadership.

Painful though it will be, Father Pavone should realize that the time has come to offer his baby up for adoption. He of all people should realize the most likely alternative: the baby will die.

Meantime, Ed Peters has added more of his thoughts here.

UPDATE: Comments are closed.

Comments

  1. Lawler’s analysis is very good. Lays it all out. No name-calling.

    What interests me is the similarities between the Corapi and Pavone situations – in ways is quite different but in one way very similar..in that they raise the question…what is a priest *for*?

    (I am less interested in the obedience question. It is a two-edged sword. Bishops and religious order superiors regularly abuse the obedience card.)

    A priest is alter Christus – a servant. He lives this out in any number of ways but most fundamentally in his service at the altar and in the Confessional (as well as in other sacraments).

    It seems that neither Pavone or Corapi are/were terribly interested in this aspect of their vocation. Part of Corapi’s self defense was how he hardly ever said Mass (!). Pavone is seen on television saying Mass at EWTN but he is primarily an activist.

    I understand that priests have many roles in addition to this. They are teachers and pastors. They are servants to the poor. They are contemplatives. But when that sacramental aspect becomes almost a sidelight…I have to wonder.

    Why are they priests? Could it be because the identity as “Father” gives them more authority and cachet than being just “Mr.?”

  2. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    I can’t disagree with you, Joe. In this case, as with Corapi’s, you get the sense that celebrating the sacraments just wasn’t enough.

    Offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, reconciling sinners, anointing the sick, witnessing marriages, baptizing children, proclaiming the gospel…this is what the priesthood is really about. Isn’t that enough?

  3. Have we forgotten the mystery of the Cross so well exemplified by St. Padre Pio? And I am not referring to his stigmata. I can;t help but wonder if one reason Padre Pio was canonized in these times is to be a model for today’s growing number of priests who become clerical celebs of sorts. When Padres Pio was slandered and restricted in public ministry he aknowledged his innocence but then simply and quietly OBEYED. Yes perhaps a bishop or religious superior abuses authority at times but the cleric in obedience never errs in obeying (except in immoral things of course). And what does the life of Padre Pio and other saints show as the fruit of their quiet, humble obedience? Their ministry, once restored, blooms and takes off with a bang and become even more effective that it was prior to the Cross.

  4. Maybe this is a good time to rethink the strategy of the pro-life movement.

    Being that it’s an evil straight from the gates of hell, maybe it’s time to just fight it Eucharistically, far more powerful than any horror picture of a sucked out baby.

    It would be fairly easy for any church member to garner support by asking 23 friends to dedicate one hour of a day to pro-life prayer, simply by stopping into a church for a pro-life holy hour. Add in a rosary and we will have the two strongest forces on planet earth. Who couldn’t give an hour?

  5. Really, it sounds like Father Pavone doesn’t believe the church teachings. Humble servant? I agree with Klaire. Rosary, holy hour and prayer.

  6. At the risk of seeming trite, small-minded, and hateful, the diocese of Amarillo has been, I understand, in dire straits for years financially over payments to victims in clergy abuse scandals. Before I kick Pavone to the curb I speculate as to whether his primary crime is that he has been mostly a less than generous guest to an already overburdened host?

  7. This is erroneous information. Fr. Pavone made it clear Priests for Life has been above reproach in yearly financially accountability to his local bishop, to the law, and to all board of directors on Priests for Life which include Cardinals and Bishops.

  8. To clarify the misunderstanding, if you have any questions, call Priests for Life toll-free at 888-735-3448 x232.

  9. You know, I disagree wholeheartedly with the critics who have stepped up to kick Fr. Pavone while he’s down. Priests For Life has done a yeoman’s work defending life– and I’m afraid I can’t say the same for much of the institutional Church. He has been orthodox in his teaching, frugal in his lifestyle, tireless in his mission to change the culture through television, radio, and print media.

    The complaints emanating from the Amarillo diocese have flitted from one thing to another: “There are serious concerns about financial management.” “There is nothing wrong with the financial reporting of PFL.” “Fr. Pavone is needed in the diocese.” They are grasping at straws to explain this unexplainable action by the bishop.

    Al Kresta did a one-hour interview with Fr. Pavone, the only [I think] comprehensive interview since all of this has happened. It is excellent– Al raises some great questions, and Fr. Pavone answers with respect and humility. The full interview is now available on Ave Maria Radio’s website, or via the following link:

    http://krestaintheafternoon.blogspot.com/2011/09/my-perspective-fr-frank-pavone-speaks.html

    It’s long, but I think it’s fair and powerful.

  10. An interesting article, especially the statement:
    “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.”

    Priests for Life is highly partisan politically and I have always had a problem with the source of their funding, besides their over-reaching pleas for financial support.

    P.S. Not sure that I will go back to the Catholic Culture website on my own.
    Something just doesn’t resonate with me about their comments policy listed at the bottom of this article.

    “To ensure well-meaning comments, only donors are allowed to Sound Off.
    If you’re a donor, log in; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!”

    Hopefully, the financial records of Catholic Culture and its parent organization, Trinity Communications, are transparent.

  11. I agree with Klaire but would add that the american hierarchy, in repeatedly and incomprehensibly permitting the Nancy Pelosis of the political world to take communion, are indirectly abetting the status quo of abortion on demand. Their failure to act is one reason why Priests for Life was founded in the first place.

  12. Oh, I’ve gotta keep going!

    Lawler writes, “Recognizing this reality may be a difficult process for Father Pavone. Until now, PFL has been his project: his baby. But he cannot continue running PFL the way he has been running it. If the mission of PFL is to continue and thrive, it will be under some new form of leadership….

    Painful though it will be, Father Pavone should realize that the time has come to offer his baby up for adoption. He of all people should realize the most likely alternative: the baby will die.”

    And WHY, I’ve got to ask, should the baby be put up for adoption? Priests For Life has been immensely successful doing what it does best: teaching. I have heard countless homilies by Fr. Pavone, in person, at conferences, on EWTN. The Masses which he celebrates are prayerful, deeply spiritual. He does that part of his work very well.

    And WHY, I’ve got to ask, shouldn’t a priest have a special calling to devote his life to supporting pro-life, to a “vocation within a vocation”? We do not think it evil if priests are commissioned as missionaries feeding the hungry, or teaching in schools or colleges, or as presidents of universities. No one has accused Fr. Michael Garanzini, president of Loyola University Chicago, of “forgetting his most important work, that of being a priest.” Brother Guy Consolmagno is an astronomer; no one faults him for that calling. Gregor Mendel, whose study of dominant and recessive characteristics became the basis for modern genetic research, was a priest. I could go on….

    Or is pro-life work somehow less important than education,

  13. At the end (as of this writing) of this post
    http://canonlawblog.blogspot.com/2011/09/some-non-canonical-reactions-to-fr.html
    Ed Peters notes a tweet from Fr. Pavone:
    “Updated, 19 Sept 2011:

    ‘Saving lives takes precedence over obeying orders. If not, explain this: http://nyti.ms/pwPJBW‘ (19 Sept 2011).

    This petulant ‘tweet’ from Fr. Pavone confirms, I suggest, the concerns many have expressed regarding the adversative stance that Pavone is publicly showing toward lawful ecclesiastical authority.”

    The article Fr. Pavone links to show that disobeying orders is justified if it is necessary to save lives concerns a marine who saved others who were under enemy fire in Viet Nam despite being ordered to stay where he was. Father Pavone’s saving of lives is not so direct as this Marine’s was. This is not to say that he has not done good work, but he has not gone in and personally removed unborn children (and their mothers) from the offices of abortionists. Most of what he does, as I understand it, is much more remote from the actual saving of specific lives under direct and immediate attack. So for him to compare himself to that marine is, IMO, a false analogy, which would not justify disobedience to his bishop.

  14. Every organization should have a change of leadershhip every five to ten years. I’m not sure how long Fr. Pavone was heading PFL, but it seems too long. An organization grows stale and begins to fosselize if fresh ideas and perspectives are not brought in. Ultimately this change will be good for PFL and for Fr. Pavone personaly now that he can move onto something new.

  15. Ministry within the Pro-Life movement is not the problem, I think. All of the people mentioned above who work in education, the sciences, or any number of fields, would face the same reality as Fr. Pavone should their legitimate superiors choose to transfer them or move them to other work. This can happen for a whole variety of reasons, some good, some less good. But it is the superior’s decision. All of those men, Fr. Pavone, included, made a promise or vow of obedience to their legitimate superior. More than anything else, obedience, it seems to me, is both a school of sanctity and the hallmark of sanctity because, among many other things, to be obedient demands humility and a degree of charity. And please don’t get me wrong. Obedience can be painful, especially when we are certain that our superiors have the wrong idea about something.

  16. Deacon Greg…”Offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, reconciling sinners, anointing the sick, witnessing marriages, baptizing children, proclaiming the gospel…this is what the priesthood is really about. Isn’t that enough?”

    I remember priests marching for civil rights. I see priests teaching in universities. I even see Deacons with a blog site. Mother Theresa did a lot more than say rosaries and go to Eucharistic adoration. I am amazed you would suggest that priests should all abandon everything but what is on your list? Am I not reading this correctly? If so I apologize. Or could it be that only priest with a mission approved by the liberal side of the church should be limited to your list?

    HMS. “Priests for Life is highly partisan politically and I have always had a problem with the source of their funding”

    Can you elaborate on this concern with anything showing prior issues with funding? You at least put out front your real objection here in that PFL supports the teaching of the Catholic Church regarding life that upsets your chose democratic party mission that is pro abortion. Lets face it, most of those protesting here do not like PFL pointing out church teaching to not support pro abortion candidates and this is their opportunity to be very vocal. They want to shut down or diminish PFL before 2012. If not, then why are there no screaming posts about the clearly political groups run by democratic political opperatives using the name Catholic to try to confuse Church teaching.

    Manny, there has been fresh new blood brought into PFL since its founding and always new ideas mainly because of the leadership of Father Frank Pavone. Simply having the same person up front does not mean they will “grows stale and begins to fosselize.” Mother Theresa did quite well and her name got anyone in the organization in the door for help. Having a strong leader can keep the team focused on the mission to end the holocaust of abortion.

  17. There are many ‘liberal priests’ who do not need to bow to their superiors obedience rule and so they keep on trucking in their ministries… Not so with the ‘consecrative’ priests. The conservatives cannot be seen as opposing the superiors because their conservative constituency demands that they submit or the donations/ministry will dry up. The liberals, McBrien, Bourgeois, Dear, Vitale, Doyle etc. don’t need to be seen kowtowing to the hierarchy in order to operate on their own ministry.. that’s why ‘liberal’ means free.. ..a conservative who is tied closely to the money tree is not free and will never be free..

  18. I have a great respect for Phil Lawler and certain read this article closely. He has recently completed a new book titled “The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston’s Catholic Culture” that is excellent in how it lays out the failures of the Bishops in general not just on the abuse, but on many other leadership issues over the last 50 years or more. It also details the entrance of a huge number of homosexuals into the priesthood. So his opinion is one that should be listened to when we think about this issue.

    That said, I continue to work for the return of Father Frank Pavone to his full time leadership of PFL. When the issues raised here are compared to 4,000 babies a day losing their lives, it simply does not hold up to anything close to concern.

    I have to laugh at the protests made by many here screaming for obedience to the bishop. I did not see a equal number of posts when Cardinal George was trying to move Father Micheal Pfleger and this priest who is certainly in full dissent wanted to “negotiate” on when he could be moved by the Cardinal and where he would go.

  19. Greta:
    “Lets face it, most of those protesting here do not like PFL pointing out church teaching to not support pro abortion candidates and this is their opportunity to be very vocal. They want to shut down or diminish PFL before 2012.”

    Thank you for being so astute in your attempts to read my and other commentators’ motivations.

    As for my real motivation, you don’t have a clue; and I wouldn’t dare to make an assumption about yours, though I would at least try to give you the benefit of the doubt.

  20. What HMS #19 said.

  21. Ultimately, this issue has nothing to do with Fr. P’s prolife work. Over the years, my husband and I have given money to support the Priests for Life. As long as Fr. P is the head of Priests for Life, we will no longer give funds to Priests for Life; instead we will give those funds to our local pregnancy resource center.

    My issue is the effort and attitude of Fr. P. I have no idea if he was rightly or wrongly called back to his diocese by his bishop. However, Fr. P should have obeyed his bishop without causing a public scandal. He has every right to retain a canon lawyer, and appeal his case to Rome.

    Am I truly obedient to my parents as a teenager if I come home when summoned kicking, screaming, and yelling at the top of my lungs how horrible they are? No, I would have broken the 4th commandment.

  22. Sara, as I said in my post, the interview I linked is long– but it’s Father Pavone in his own words. I hope you’ll listen. If you do, I believe you’ll find him to be humble, prayerful and obedient.

    Those who compare this case to the Fr. Corapi situation are making some weighty assumptions; I don’t believe they’ll stand up under scrutiny.

  23. HMS. Please, I used your words, not mine. You have an issue with PFL obviously because you view them as “highly partisan politically”. Those three words you use to describe what you believe. What part of PFL is not the teaching of the Catholic Church? Curious about that. I know of no one at PFL including Father Frank saying that Catholics must vote for republicans, only those dedicated to stopping abortion. How is that partisan politics? How is that outside Church teaching? And since you agree that it is “highly partisan politically”, I think saying as I did that most would like to see PFL shut down before 2012 is probably not a far out statement.

    naturgesetz, same to you on this as well since you ditto’d your belief.

    I note none take on what could be considered proportional to 4,000 babies being killed a day or 54 million and counting to justify voting for a politician supporting abortion by their votes.

    friscoeddie in effect says the pure liberal philosphy whether that was his intent or not. Waiting to see HMS take on his statement. Do you and naturgesetz agree that because a priest is liberal, he should not be held to the same vows to the bishop as one who is a conservative? He also says “The conservatives cannot be seen as opposing the superiors because their conservative constituency demands that they submit”. So that means liberal priests vows do not apply and liberals do not demand or want to see obedience to their Bishops or the magisterium, correct? Then he names off those in ongoing dissent.

    Deacond Greg, HMS, and naturgesetz, is this also your belief and if so, it certainly makes the ongoing whine for Father Frank to submit very clear. Yet I suspect I will not see much protest on this point which frankly is at least honest in what i see as liberal beliefs. Liberals get waivers on what they demand of everyone else?

  24. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Greta…

    You completely misunderstand. I’m not suggesting clergy abandon their ministries. And I never said that. I have no problem with priests (or deacons) having full time ministries above and beyond the sacramental work of Holy Orders.

    I do have a problem, however, with stubborn and disobedient priests (and deacons) who insist that they have to do what they want to do, and if they can’t, they’re going to pick up their toys and stomp off the playground and go someplace where they can do their own thing. That was the problem with Corapi. Is something similar happening with Fr. Pavone? I hope not. But his response so far is troubling.

    If engaging in the sacramental life of the Church and playing a role in the salvation of souls isn’t fulfilling, something is wrong.

    Finally, your blatant and unthinking statement that I only favor “the liberal side of the church” is insulting, petty, ignorant, un-Christian, spiteful, polarizing and demonstrably false.

    You should be ashamed of yourself. And I think you know that.

    Dcn. G.

  25. Since the Highly Partisan nature of PFL has come up, it might be interesting to compare what they stand for with what a Cardinal in rome says about the abortion issue. He just happens to sit on the vatican equivalent to the Supreme Court, Cardinal Burke.

    Here is the posts in the Vatican he has been assigned..

    May 2008: Appointed as member of Congregation for Clergy; made a member of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts (he will be involved with authentic interpretation of canon law)

    June 2008: Appointed as Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura

    October 2009: Appointed a member of the Congregation for Bishops

    July 6, 2010: Appointed a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship

    July 24, 2010: Appointed a member of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints

    Obviously, he is close to the Pope and in tune with the Magestrium..

    Here he is on the issue of the Eucharist and pro abortion which is relevent because it matches the PFL mission.

    http://te-deum.blogspot.com/2010/11/cardinal-burke-discusses-abortion.html

    And here is one on Vatican Insider on Cardinal Burke growing influence and the reasons why. The see him being much more involved in the naming of new Bishops in America and point to the soon to be Cardinal Chaput going to Philadelphia.

    http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/homepage/world-news/detail/articolo/burke-stati-uniti-estados-unidos-united-states-6028/

    So I assume that because this Cardinal stands firm on Church teaching, that he also his highly partisan politically and not simply stating Church teaching? May he indeed be growing in admiration and power in the Vatican and have a strong voice in all appointments for Bishops. The Church will prosper under that type of leadership.

    We have sent a letter to Cardinal Burke asking him to speak out in support of PFL mission and to see if he can help resolve this issue.

  26. Greta,

    You ask, “Do you and naturgesetz agree that because a priest is liberal, he should not be held to the same vows to the bishop as one who is a conservative?” Speaking for myself, in a word, no.

  27. Deacon Greg, As I said, if I was misreading this, I apologize. However, I would like you to read over again your comment shown below and how it certainly could be taken. I think the first is far different than the second and I say that with the most respect. Please read this to the end as I think you will see why I am so passionate on this issue.

    I do not see in Father Frank what your post seems to say,”I can’t disagree with you, Joe. In this case, as with Corapi’s, you get the “sense” that celebrating the sacraments just wasn’t enough.
    Offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, reconciling sinners, anointing the sick, witnessing marriages, baptizing children, proclaiming the gospel…this is what the priesthood is really about. Isn’t that enough?”

    This does not seem to jive with you later post or with what I know of Father Frank. Here is your later post. “I’m not suggesting clergy abandon their ministries. And I never said that. I have no problem with priests (or deacons) having full time ministries above and beyond the sacramental work of Holy Orders.” confused on how this matches..”Isn’t that enough?” it certainly sounds like you were suggesting that priests should have enough just with their priestly duties without other ministries, let alone one that is “full time”, but I could be wrong.

    I have been at Mass with both Father Corapi and Father Frank presiding on several occasions. In no way did I sense from either of them what you seem to “sense” when you said; “In this case, as with Corapi’s, you get the “sense” that celebrating the sacraments just wasn’t enough.”
    What information can you share that would make you “sense” that with these two priests that celebrating the mass was not enough?? Father Frank use to say in every talk I heard that praying the mass and the eucharist are what allowed him to do his ministry for without them, he could do nothing…He also said he could be content forever in celebrating the mass and being a parish priest, but that when we had a current holocaust, he felt a strong calling to do everything he can to get priests involved in stopping this slaughter. Many priests I know have gained courage to speak out on the holocaust from his action. So Father Frank and many other priest and bishops would tell you no, doing what you said is indeed not enough in the face of the ongoing holocaust. In fact, just doing what you suggest… “Offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, reconciling sinners, anointing the sick, witnessing marriages, baptizing children, proclaiming the gospel” while wonderful and worthy, with 4,000 babies a day being killed, I would think most would say that only doing the basic ministry is not enough. Would it have been enough during Nazi Germany and the holocaust? Many did do the basics of ministry and we still hear criticism. Many during the race battles also stuck to the basics and did not speak out or march.

    Is it enough when over 50% of Catholic voters cast their ballot for the most pro abortion candidate ever elected? Father Frank does not think so. He felt a strong calling to do more, but never missed saying his daily mass and his time with the Eucharist. He never hesitated to try to save life as with the kid in Canada or the situation with Terri Schiavo to get involved. He loved life because he say each as a gift from God and was always closely tied with Catholic teaching. While in town, he always visited the Childrens hospital and pregancy centers to see those in need and to offer thanks to those helping them.

    If I am wrong on these points, I am sorry. As to being ashamed of myself, if I have distorted what you said, I am sorry, but I have tried to put forth the points as I see them in regard to church teaching and for life. I get vocal because abortion has touched me very personally. My granddaughter was killed in an abortion mill at the age of 17. She should not have been there and her parents were never notified. She died because the aborton mill did not have the resources, time, or espertise to save her life. far from being legal and therefore safe, the democratic party continues to fight any legislation to force the same standards on the abortion mills doing these surgical procedures as required by the local hospitals. So I will spend the rest of my life in prayer that Catholics finally say no more and vote to end abortion being legal sending it back to the states where reasonable restrictions, if it remains legal, will be enforced.

    I do not speak of it often, but I wanted you to know I am not ashamed, but hopefully honest in my battle and also prayerful.

  28. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Greta…

    I’m sorry for your loss, which clearly informs everything you do. You will be in my prayers.

    Dcn. G.

  29. When this is all over Fr Pavone will end up the same way as Fr. Caropi.

  30. BRAVO, GRETA, AND THANKS BE TO GOD AND BLESSED MOTHER FOR YOUR CLEAR AND COURAGEOUS MESSAGE! We are all sinners-trying to live lives to become saints including priests, religious, and lay people alike. Priests and religious are under attack more than any of us, especially those who are trying to speak the TRUTH. Silence in the face of great evil would be the greater evil. Have we become like the Aztec, Mayan, or other DEPRAVED civilizations that killled their own people in ritual sacrifice? How will history look at us? 50+million of our own babies sacrificed in the name of? PROGRESS???. Look to what truly is EVIL, and root that out…the log in our eyes, vs. the speck in our brothers…which is easiest, which is more honest, and which takes more COURAGE???

  31. Greta:

    I want you to know how much I appreciate your sharing this very personal part of your life.

  32. My 2 cents:The forces of death are having a field-day with this situation twisting it and spinning it to the pro-life movement’s detriment. Meanwhile Planned Parenthood is having a field day killing babies by the second. Certainly questions of ministry and finances are proper subjects for the Bishop’s inquiry and judgment. To have failed to kept it essentially between the affected parties is harmful. isupportfatherfrank.com

  33. What this tells me is that those who are passionate in their activism for the preborn and their mothers need to be absolutely sure that the organizations and structures they set up for this purpose are run in a way that is beyond reproach. So that no bishop ever feels the need to reel anyone in and those supporting you are left wondering what is really going on.

    It might be good to compare Fr. Pavone’s experience with his Missionaries for Life with the Sisters of Life. that order – it seems – is flourishing. It is strong and those nuns are everywhere. But who started the Sisters of Life? I really have no idea. I know Cardinal O’Connor had a role in it – but who was the founding sister? Perhaps in pro-life circles she is is well-known but to the general public – even the general Catholic public – she is not.

    And – it seems – for the sake of the apostolate and those they serve – is a good thing. No one was seeking to be front and center or the “face” of the group. Just servants giving hope in a very concrete way .

  34. Vero1956,

    If it was harmful to have failed to keep the matter between Fr. Frank and Bishop Zurek, isupportfatherfrank.com compounds the harm, as does your publicizing it.

    Furthermore, having skimmed the open letter on the website, I wonder how many people are in a position of personal knowledge to be able to make the claims it makes about Fr. Frank. Yet anybody can sign it, apparently.

  35. Greta,

    What happened to your granddaughter was terrible. You have my condolences.

  36. Sorry to say but all this trouble with Fr. Pavone is about the money and the power. Let us not forget that the USCCB donated a very large sum of money to ACORN of all places! An entity that espouses abortion and political liberalism. One who strong arms people into voting the way they want. And, unfortunately, people like myself did donate but didn’t know where the money was going. Thinking that it was going to a Christain cause. While instead it helped elect a Pro Abortion president! Sure, not all the money went to ACORN and was used properly. But I would not have given ONE dime to that kind of organization but sadly I did unknowingly. That wasn’t very honest of the USCCB was it? While I do not want to paint a bad picture of the USCCB because I know there are many very good bishops there but this can not be ignored either. What is my point? There must be way more to this story. Also, this is not unlike what was done to Mother Angelica. There were those within the church who wanted nothing more than for her and EWTN to be silenced. She is a saint. EWTN is the best conservative Catholic station in the world.

  37. mytwocents, and anyone else still interested in painting our papally appointed bishops as a gang of pro-abort thieves, just a bit of clarification:

    The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) includes among its members not just “very many good bishops” but ALL Catholic bishops (active and retired, including cardinals, auxiliaries and coadjutors in addition to ordinaries–the few you like, the very many you can’t stand, whatever end of the spectrum you side with) of the United States and the US Virgin Islands. The USCCB is not a secret cabal of liberals meeting in a smoke-filled room, but the canonically erected body by which the bishops exercise their common episcopal authority and carry out the common mission of Christ in this geographic region. There are similar conferences of bishops in all parts of the world. The bishops are served in this common ministry by a staff of some 300 clergy and lay professionals and administrative assistants.

    One of the ways in which the bishops have exercised their common ministry through the Conference since the early 1970s has been to sponsor the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, an annual national collection that funds grants to local organizations involved in responding to Pope Paul VI’s mandate: “If you want peace, work for justice.” Over the years, numerous grants have gone to local community organizations (that is not, by the way, code for “radical socialists”) engaged in many aspects of helping to overcome poverty, joblessness, and lack of access to education. Among the organizations to which CCHD funds have gone–in every case, with the permission of the local bishop–have been groups belonging to ACORN, a national network of community organizers. Voter registration was a minuscule part of the work funded, and it was for nonpartisan ballot issues such as expanded job training programs. When it was revealed that an ACORN executive was embezzling funds, the CCHD immediately withdrew support for programs connected to it, and tightened the due diligence involved in reviewing funded projects–something all donors have done in recent years because of the all too common mishandling of nonprofit funds, criminal or simply careless, that Bishop Zurek is determined to make sure PFL is not engaging in. In the process, some ACORN voter registration irregularities associated with the Obama campaign–a small percentage of the organization’s efforts, and none funded by the CCHD–came to light.

    At no time did the USCCB knowingly channel Church funds to Mr Obama as a candidate, much less to any pro-abortion agenda he may have had. That is calumny, and a dead ecclesial horse besides.

  38. I don’t know that the usccb is ‘canonically erected.’ And in any case it does not have any teaching authority. Only individual bishops teaching in union with the magisterium have that. Most of the bishops in thomas mire’s day sided with Henry Viii, not rome.

  39. Profetus is EVERYTHING says:

    FREE Fr. Pavone asap! Millions are dying every day Fr. Pavone is prevented from ministry. Proaborts trying to stop him are evil and must be suspended. Nothing matters more than saving fetuses — absolutely nothing takes priority. They are everything and must be saved. Bp. Zurek has outrageous nerve messing with Fr. Pavone who is authorized by JPII and Bl. Teresa, how dare he. Fr Pavone is a Saint, so focused on fetuses, nothing more important than them. Fr. Pavone even has to be forced to defend himself, he’s so humble and sans ego. Free Fr. Pavone so he can continue to save millions innocents a day.

    [Edited to remove offensive content -- Ed.]

  40. @jkm

    “interested in painting our papally appointed bishops as a gang of pro-abort thieves” Your words not mine nor my intent!!!

    “calumny”….really? I did not state a falsehood, just the simple fact that the usccb donated a LOT of money to acorn. I guess Raymond Arrroyo and anyone else who reported this story is also guilty of “calumny” !

    “dead ecclesial horse”, sorry but it’s still relevent.

  41. Stick to the point . . . stick to the comment . . ACORN has nothing to do with this. Step on a different platform and take your drama there. NOT! The following letter may shed some light: The Most Rev. Roger W. Gries O.S.B., Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland, has offered his ongoing support for Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, and has asserted that the vital work of Priests for Life must continue. In a letter dated Sept. 19, Bishop Gries wrote, “Over my ten years as Auxiliary Bishop of Cleveland, I crossed paths many times with Father Frank Pavone. During all this time I have found him dedicated to the preservation of life for the unborn. He and I both work and pray for the day when we will eliminate this horrendous evil from the face of the earth.” Noting that “Supporting abortion happens to be the politically correct stance to take these days,” Bishop Gries wrote, “God would love to restore the peace and love found in the Garden of Eden before the fall. It is our challenge in this age to build up the Kingdom of God. We will only achieve this goal if we let his will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Bishop Gries asked for prayers for Father Pavone as he works with his bishop in the Diocese of Amarillo. “The work he had done since founding Priests for Life must continue as we face the future. Please continue to support Priests for Life.”Bishop Gries is among the Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops who serve as advisers to Priests for Life.“I was proud to stand up with Father Pavone when he asked me to serve on the Advisory Board of Bishops. Every opportunity that comes my way to stand up for life will find me speaking out against abortion,” the Bishop wrote. “Let us pray, pray and pray some more for the mothers carrying infants in their wombs. Also, let us pray for those who perform the abortions and work in those clinics for they need God’s grace to see the evil of their deeds.”For the full text of the letter, go to http://www.priestsforlife.org.

  42. Profetus,

    “Millions are dying every day Fr. Pavone is prevented from ministry.”

    Actually, it’s a little over 3,000 per day even when Father Pavone is working, so you are off by a factor of 1,000.

  43. Priests for Life is a private association of the faithful, with most of, if not all, its funding coming from the public and not the Church. This a very significant difference from the USCCB giving funding to ACORN through CCHD.

    There is also the fact that Priests for Life is a 501(c)3 non-profit, meaning they are under a very high level of scrutiny to keep the 501(c)3 status. To top it all off, there was Msgr. Waldo’s public letter stating there are no accusations being made, two letters from US bishops (Bishop Gries and Bishop Bates) supporting Fr. Frank and Priests for Life, as well as a letter from Ray Flynn (US Ambassador to the Holy See) to the same effect. All these letters can be found on http://www.priestsforlife.org/update along with more letters from various Pro-Life leaders.

    Let’s consider these verifiable facts for the time being and see what happens.

  44. I understand how so much emphasis is placed on a priest’s primary function to celebrate the Eucharist. When a priest has a unique calling to a particular cause like pro-life, it can cause confusion because the church has been on the “maintenance” mode for so long. Even Pope Benedict has stated how our generation has had neglected evangelism. Thankfully, mostly because of converts with a fervent faith, the much needed apologetic work is now being undertaken by more lay people. However, priests are also being raised up for various ministry gifts as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (Eph 11-13). I think that some factions of the church is still learning and adapting to the “new” crop of priests who are taking the gospel to the streets instead of being insulated in a parish. I personally think that Fr. Pavone should work directly under the auspices of Rome so he is free from diocesan policticking and can concentrate on bringing the urgent message of pro-life to a larger audience.

  45. Bill Russell says:

    Father Pavone – claims to have been accepted by “several Ivy League colleges” but does not name them. He was rejected by the Salesians with whom he studied. Cardinal O’ Connor gave him permission to do Priests for Life for six years. When Cardinal Egan summoned him back to work in a parish, he refused. Meanwhile, he performed so unsatisfactorily during a brief stint in Rome that he was sent back. Now he wants to find a third diocese who bishop will allow him to do what he wants. Not a brilliant track record.

  46. It is off topic, but in response and clarification regarding the canonical status of episcopal conferences:

    Can. 449 §1. It is only for the supreme authority of the Church to erect, suppress, or alter conferences of bishops, after having heard the bishops concerned.

    §2. A legitimately erected conference of bishops possesses juridic personality by the law itself.

    (Code of Canon Law, 1983)

    Sounds “canonically erected” to me.

  47. Maybe, just maybe, the devil sees one man…one priest making good headway against his evil so he then destroys him.

    The question that must always be answered is .

    Has a good priest gone bad..drunk with the power and fame?

    or

    Has the weak “American Catholic Church” (NO SUCH THING) become afraid of a priest who speaks as Jesus did when he points out the weaknesses and failures if the church in America?

    That’s always the question and always will be the question until the church cleans up it’s own act. And the act that I am talking about it the American Catholic bishops who have turned a blind eye to the core issues of our faith because it will offend someone.

  48. Bill Russell

    I hope you can validate all your assertions about Fr. Pavone.

    By the way, the Franciscans rejected Thomas Merton. Just think, we would never have had “Seven Storey Mountain.”

  49. Try being a true Catholic in action and you are gone via the “compassionate” shepherds:

    http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com/actualites/article/1441963

    Where are the bishops standing in solidarity with their priests bearing good fruits of the Word and Spirit? When JPII encouraged and gave advice to his own “Solidarity” group in Poland, knowing in such circumstances violence and even martyrdom could (and was) very well be their end, he went forward with courage in his own solidarity with them. When more and more stand in solidarity in various apostolates of the pro life movement, via the talents of men such as Fr. Pavone, our bishops have to run for PC backup from their American “committee”, and find some foundation for publicly abusing the very person of one they ought to be helping, privately and in solidarity of love. Maybe, just maybe, they too might learn something from the person by demonstrating their own patience, humility, and prudence.

    Meanwhile we have the “new” lay Church in its various elitist blogs as if they are the ones to instruct the faithful as to who is “correct”, with thumbs up or down about a brother or sister who has obviously proven through much more selfless work for Christ than they in their impervious cells of opinion offer. Shame…as this elderly, faithful priest in the article linked to above says …. we are destroying the Catholic Church …. and that just might be the meaning of Benedict’s own admonition to “professional Catholics”!

  50. 42 Gerard Nadal

    How shallow a remark. Obviously what is of concern is that the growing pro-life apostolates/associations can easily be effected in morale with such a personal attack upon a person so universally recognized in their work. And it is most probable that it is their very active witness that is keeping abortion numbers even at the levels you cite and not greater. PFL also has its international effect. When that demoralizing effect comes from industrial complex of killing mills such as those run by Planned Parenthood it is daily dealt with, but when it comes via Church authority….and in such an obvious and notably personal means of attack, errors in info et al….the human nature and spirit react expectedly.

  51. For those of us praying on behalf of both Fr. Pavone & Bishop Zurek I’d like to point out that the Bishop’s move was a slanderous one. If all of this would go to court this Bishop could easily be sued for giving PFL a bad wrap. Now being Catholic we aren’t going to do that. Are we? We are supposed to turn the other cheek. Do we realize how bad this Bishop looks all the way around? With that said, please read onward: ”Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the Lord.
    Leviticus 19:16 “The words of a talebearer are as wounds” Proverbs 26:22 “He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.” Proverbs 17:9 “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out; so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.” Proverbs 26:20 We pray that Bishop Zurek remember he’s a Bishop and a sheperd. He wasn’t called to be a slanderer. We pray that Fr. Frank’s voice for the unborn be even STRONGER!!!With that said ISUPPORTFATHERFRANK.COM

  52. I do not think that God is going to be very happy with the Bishop; and those that are now throwing stones at Fr. Pavone. No one has done what Fr. Frank has in trying to suffocate the abortion in this country. Everyone talks – but they do not walk the walk.

    The Bishop had no right – and had no authority from God – as far a I’m concerned – to call out Fr. Pavone and PFL in such a derogatory manner as to pull into question the legitimacy of their plight; AND ALL IN THE INTEREST OF MONEY!!!

    It is disgusting – the Bishop knew it would cause irreparable and lasting damage to Fr. Pavone and to the Pro-Life ministry; and yet he did it anyway. Sadly, he put those words out there that would send a knife into the heart of the pro-life movement. He did this in satisfaction of the frustration of his own ego (as it demands authority) and the financial constraints of his diocese.

    And all of you – who want to liken Fr. Pavone to Fr. Corapi and his situation. THIS IS PATHETIC – does any one not notice how the strong and unafraid voices in the church are being taken down… one-by-one.

    People – stop, look and listen; have minds of your own – do not be like the foolish crowds that gathered to shout “Free Barrabbas!” and then to say “Crucify Him.”

  53. Why is it that only Fr Pavone can run PFL? Why is it this is the only guy that can further the right to life cause?

    If the good bishop has something else for Fr Pavone to do than that it what he should do and we all should accept it.

  54. Christine,

    Maybe God only wanted Fr Pavone to take PFL to where it is at and somebody else can take it further. Right or wrong the Bishop is his leader and he should submit to his authority.

  55. There is a whiff of hypocrisy here….a post criticizing Fr. Pavone’s public pro-life ministry by a Deacon who runs a popular blog and touts his professional accolades in his about box.

    Isn’t being a deacon enough? Do you really need to run this site?

    [Chris, if you were paying attention, you'd have noticed that I clarified my comments. There is nothing wrong with a member of the clergy having a ministry above and beyond the service for which they were ordained. There IS something wrong with a priest who insists that if the bishop won't let him do that ministry, or wants him to take a break from that ministry, well, he'll just go off in a huff and find a way to do it anyway, by setting up his own order or finding a bishop who will let him do what he wants. Dcn. G.]

  56. Jim McCartney says:

    Quite a jump to say that “the sacraments weren’t terribly important” to Fr Pavone. If Fr Pavone is taken away from his pro-life activism, who will be the brave souls to step up and take over this incredibly important mission ?
    Unfortunately, the institutional church is sorely lacking leadership in this arena. My prayer is that the bishops will take some real action in this work of God.”But the watchmen remain silent……….”


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